Researchers develop at-home test that can diagnose gingiviti

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Researchers develop at-home test that can diagnose gingivitis

Using an antibody-based approach, researchers have developed a point-of-care device to detect and quantify Porphyromonas gingivalis lipopolysaccharides concentrations in human saliva. (Image: Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand)

CINCINNATI, US: The prevalence of gingivitis continues to be a significant public health concern, and barriers such as limited access to healthcare and high treatment costs often impede early disease diagnosis. However, researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have created a novel device that makes it possible to diagnose gingivitis at home. The device offers a rapid and low-cost alternative to conventional tools of diagnosis and will help with the timely prevention of the risks associated with periodontal disease as well as related systemic diseases, thus improving treatment outcomes.

The at-home test was engineered to single out Porphyromonas gingivalis endotoxin. “It’s been quite the challenge to get to the point where we can detect this toxin created by the bacteria responsible for gingivitis,” Dr Andrew Steckl, a distinguished university research professor at UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, said in a press release.

Discussing the attractiveness of saliva as a bio-fluid for point-of-reference applications, Prof. Steckl stated: “It’s relatively plentiful and easy to obtain through non-invasive methods. And saliva has a lot of important elements that can act as indicators of your health.” However, he noted that, owing to saliva’s versatility, it is difficult to isolate the specific biomarker of interest for analysis.

Senior researcher Prof. Andrew Steckl. (Image: Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand)

To obtain the desired results, the researchers used standard sample preparation strategies such as saliva filtration and pretreated the saliva sample with potato starch to reduce the interference from biomolecules in saliva. They then used antibodies that react to the endotoxins found in the bacteria. According to Prof. Steckl, the process required a great deal of work and involved many dead-ends. “I tell my students that research is search, search and re-search until you find the answer,” he noted.

Point-of-care testing has been around for a while now and has been widely used for pregnancy detection, for example. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly popularised the use of home monitoring technologies. According to Allied Market Research, the at-home testing industry is expected to generate US$45 billion (€42 billion) annually by 2031.

The study, titled “Salivary endotoxin detection using combined mono/polyclonal antibody-based sandwich-type lateral flow immunoassay device”, was published online on 21 August 2023 in Sensors and Diagnostics, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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