Saliva may be the answer to your needle anxiety

Think about the last time you needed tests run at the doctor’s office. Come on, just try. Not knowing the issue prior to the tests can produce anxiety. The uncertainty can be awful, sometimes leading to sleepless nights and loss of appetite. This is only complicated further when invasive methods like X-rays, or worse, needles are part of the process.

OUCH, That Hurt!


Because let’s face it: no one likes needles!

Well, according to a new study, there may be a more palatable way to undergo testing in the future. Yes, a future without needles. Someday, there is a belief that markers for disease may be detectable through saliva. Much like the uniqueness of a fingerprint, experts suggest that this could be a reliable way to determine disease somewhere down the line.

So wait, you’re telling me I could provide a spit sample for you rather than be stuck by that needle?! Where do I sign up?

Initially, researchers focus centered around urine. Samples of urine have “specific metabolic signatures” that change when a health problem occurs. However, certain factors like one’s environment and diet can impact the compounds found in urine. As a result the reliability of testing urine is not deemed as valid.


Nothing To Spit At


Saliva, on the other hand, has similar promise to urine, but is less affected by these same factors. During a trial, researchers tested a series of healthy volunteers over the course of 10 days. While urine and saliva samples were “distinct and consistent for each participant,” the spit samples varied less due to dietary changes than their urine.

These tests are preliminary, and will require much greater scrutiny. But, it is possible that future visits to your physician could involve fewer “you’re going to feel a small pinch” type conversations.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

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Human Trial for Zika Vaccine is Underway

A DNA-based vaccine has shown to have great success on monkeys. Testing on humans has begun.

Monkey Business

There are currently a few other human trials of other potential Zika vaccines underway. This particular DNA-based experiment is different because it protected monkeys from acquiring infection from the virus. Its effectiveness is very promising in humans since it was so successful on a lower primate species.

Ted Pierson, chief of Viral Pathogenesis at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reported the positive outcome from the monkey trial study. He stated that of the 18 primates who received a full dose of the vaccine, 17 were protected from the viral infection. The other monkeys that were given only one shot were not protected, but their bodies did create antibodies.

So, at least for the primates, the vaccine is successful; it’s just the proper dosage that still remains nebulous.

The Human Condition

Although the findings in the primate study are exciting, similar results are not always guaranteed with humans. The first phase of the human trial, however, will garner more insight for the researchers.

This potential vaccine uses the actual Zika virus in the manufacturing of synthetically created DNA. The piece of DNA, when absorbed into the body, hopefully, creates an immune response to the virus. By introducing tiny bits of Zika into the cells, the scientists hope the human body will create an antibody response. This desired cellular reaction would (optimistically) protect the body against the Zika virus.

More About Zika

At this juncture, we know that Zika is a virus that is spread through mosquito bites, blood transfusions, and sexual intercourse. The virus has been linked to Gullain-Barre syndrome, which can cause paralysis. It also causes birth defects, such as microcephaly, which is brain-related.

Pierson explains, “”The reason why there are Zika-associated neurodevelopmental defects is because the virus is actually infecting the fetus and attacking developing neurons in the fetus, causing direct harm.”

This is why a DNA-based vaccine would be revolutionary for the battle against Zika. The vaccine would create an immune response in pregnant women that would keep Zika at bay (or at least left with only a small strain of the virus.) This would, in turn, keep the unborn fetus from becoming infected, and hence getting the birth defects.

Scientists around the globe are conducting experiments with potential vaccines at a rapid pace. Everyone understands that time is of the essence when it comes to protecting the population from this virus.

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