Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Saliva spits out information on chemical exposure

24.10.2003


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.



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.

Business inquiries on this or other areas of research at PNNL should be directed to 888-375-PNNL or inquiry@pnl.gov.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a Department of Energy Office of Science research facility that advances the fundamental understanding of complex systems, and provides science-based solutions to some of the nation’s most pressing challenges in national security, energy and environmental quality. The laboratory employs more than 3,800 scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff, and has an annual budget of nearly $600 million. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has operated PNNL for the federal government since the laboratory’s inception in 1965.

Susan Bauer | PNNL
Further information:
http://www.pnl.gov/news

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>