Can Blood Samples be Replaced by…a Mouthwash?

July 29, 2022
Science Team

Does your heart skip a bit at the mere thought of a needle? If so, you’re not alone. Studies suggest that around 16% of adults avoid medical interventions involving needles out of fear.

Blood sampling may be convenient – but has its downsides: puncturing the skin comes with a risk of infection. The results may not always be accurate since introducing a needle can alter gene expressions. And it’s not optimal during vulnerable experiences like psychedelic experiments.

Despite that, taking blood samples is still the main method of choice for many procedures – among those gene expression analyses. Gene expression analysis is used for diagnosing diseases, guiding medical decisions, and research. Today, gene expression analysis is done mainly via blood samples.

Finding a needle-less alternative is thus high on the list!

The result: a mouthwash

And that was the motivation for this IONS study. The researchers looked at developing a mouthwash that could replace needles in gene expression analysis.

More precisely, the mouthwash was used to capture salivary neutrophils. A neutrophil is a type of immune cell that reacts quickly to changes in its surroundings. As implied by the name, salivary neutrophils are found in your saliva.

Could the oral rinse be a valid substitute for blood samples?

Equivalent results

It should be mentioned that a small pilot study was done previously on five male test subjects who provided both blood samples and saliva samples at the same time. The pilot study showed that the method worked, and this more extensive study aimed to examine whether it would work for all kinds of people.

The results showed no significant difference from blood tests, meaning that saliva sampling looks like a promising substitute. Results were also homogenous across genders and ages.

Emerald Gate study

The tests were done as part of an Emerald Gate study, which aimed to examine the effectiveness of energy medicine. The results suggested that participants experienced significant pain reduction after the treatments.

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