Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Saliva Spits Out Information On Chemical Exposure

Date:
October 24, 2003
Source:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Summary:
Home testing of saliva to measure personal hormone levels is gaining popularity, with dozens of companies offering do-it-yourself, mail-in test kits. Battelle scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory envision a day when it may be nearly as easy to detect chemical exposure or even nerve gas poisoning -- simply by analyzing a victim's saliva.

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Home testing of saliva to measure personal hormone levels is gaining popularity, with dozens of companies offering do-it-yourself, mail-in test kits. Battelle scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory envision a day when it may be nearly as easy to detect chemical exposure or even nerve gas poisoning -- simply by analyzing a victim's saliva. And the results would be almost immediate.

Related Articles


Using sophisticated mass spectrometry equipment at PNNL, researchers have been able to identify breakdown products of a common pesticide in the saliva of rats exposed to known amounts of the pesticide. The researchers are working now to develop a simpler, portable microanalytical sensor system to quickly diagnose pesticide exposure in humans and a modeling method than can estimate the dose. Researchers say the technology could be adapted to test for a variety of contaminants, including chemical warfare agents.

The research project began with an Environmental Protection Agency grant to study pesticide exposure in adults and children working or living near farms. The research team exposed rats to a common agricultural chemical and found traces in the saliva shortly after exposure.

"The fact that we were able to find the chemical in very low concentrations confirms that saliva can be a reliable, non-invasive method to monitor farm or industrial workers who are exposed routinely to potentially harmful pesticides," said Jim Campbell, an analytical chemist working with mass spectrometers at PNNL.

Researchers believe saliva monitoring may be able to detect a broad range of chemical contaminants from ongoing occupational exposure, accidents or even acts of war and terrorism.

"The class of pesticides we are studying, organophosphates, are chemically similar and work on the same general principal as nerve gas," said Charles Timchalk, a Battelle toxicologist at PNNL. "Both pesticides and nerve gases inhibit an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. Without acetylcholinesterase, nerves, including those responsible for breathing, stop functioning."

Chemical nerve agents also bind to and disrupt other enzymes, including one called butyrylcholnesterase. "Researchers at the laboratory have demonstrated that rat saliva contains a nearly pure population of this enzyme," said Campbell. "This data strongly suggests that it's possible to develop a portable device to yield immediate results from a small amount of saliva. Such a device might save lives in the event of a military or terrorist attack."

Real-time diagnosis is the key, as some treatments for nerve gas poisoning are effective, if initiated in time. Typically, however, testing for chemical exposure requires drawing blood or collecting urine samples, which must then be sent to a laboratory. Results may be days or weeks away.

"If expanded to identify chemical warfare agents, saliva analysis would not only identify those who need medical treatment, but might also offer up forensic evidence against the attackers," said Timchalk. "It might be possible to detect trace levels of the chemical agents in the saliva of a terrorist who handled the poisons before releasing them."

The saliva monitoring technology under development at PNNL is being designed to provide immediate results and be simple enough to be operated in the field by technicians with little training.

"We have demonstrated that a biosensor linked to a hand-held electrochemical detector can identify the organophosphates in solution with a high degree of sensitivity," said Yuehe Lin, a Battelle analytical chemist at PNNL. "The biosensor consists of electrodes coated with carbon nanotubes. The carbon nantotubes hold the enzymes, which are targeted to the organophosphate chemicals, and electricity is applied. If organophophates are present, there is a decrease in the electrical current that can be correlated to the amount of chemical present. The hand-held biosensor detection system will facilitate the on-site saliva monitoring of exposures to these pesticides."

The Battelle team hopes to secure additional funding to study saliva testing and monitoring for nerve agents. Meanwhile they continue to develop the technology to assess exposure to agricultural pesticides.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Saliva Spits Out Information On Chemical Exposure." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031024064724.htm>.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (2003, October 24). Saliva Spits Out Information On Chemical Exposure. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031024064724.htm
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Saliva Spits Out Information On Chemical Exposure." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031024064724.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Sony Hopes To Make Any Glasses 'Smart'

How Sony Hopes To Make Any Glasses 'Smart'

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Sony's glasses module attaches to the temples of various eye- and sunglasses to add a display and wireless connectivity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Los Angeles Police To Receive 7,000 Body Cameras

Los Angeles Police To Receive 7,000 Body Cameras

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the cameras will be distributed starting Jan. 1. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jaguar Unveils 360 Virtual Windshield Making Car Pillars Appear Transparent

Jaguar Unveils 360 Virtual Windshield Making Car Pillars Appear Transparent

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Jaguar unveils a virtual 360 degree windshield that may be the most futuristic automotive development yet. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins