Your spit is a treasure trove of information that soon could diagnose everything from high blood pressure to cancer.
What’s more, saliva is so easy to collect, that someday patients will be able to take their own samples and send them directly to labs for analysis or use a smartphone app to read results, cutting initial health care costs.
Already, saliva tests are diagnosing HIV, oral diseases, and inflammatory disease. In the future, maybe 5 to 10 years, saliva analysis could be able to pinpoint where the inflammation exists and what exactly is causing it, says researcher Bjorn Klinge, professor and chair in the Department of Periontology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
Klinge and colleagues studied the saliva of 1,000 adults living in Sweden to see if certain salivary biomarkers could be used to detect common and sometimes life-threatening system diseases.
The study showed that saliva can contain elevated biomarkers for these diseases.
• Bowel disease
• Muscle and joint disease
• Various inflammations associated with heart disease and high blood pressure.
This spit research not only has the ability to revolutionize methods for diagnosing life-threatening disease, but it can help people who, because of poverty or location, have limited access to diagnosis and treatment.
Some saliva tests are as easy as sending a spit sample in a plastic bag to the lab. There’s also a smartphone app and test kit being developed that reads cortisol (stress hormone) levels in a saliva. Elevated cortisol levels in psychotically depressed patients can signal the onset of a psychotic break.
“We will be able to reach parts of the population that we haven’t reached before,” Klinge said in a press release, “and that will increase our chances of detecting illnesses at an early stage.”