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Health Roundup

February 3, 2012

A new test for blood sugar levels uses saliva instead of blood.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

A saliva test for blood sugar. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People with diabetes have to monitor the sugar levels in their blood regularly, and that means painful pin pricks to draw a sample. But researchers at Brown University are developing a new biochip the size of a fingernail etched with devices called plasmonic interferometers that can measure blood sugar levels from saliva samples. The technology, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is still confined to the lab. Applications include detecting not only sugar levels, but also toxic chemicals and infectious agents.

In other news, McGill scientists report in the joural Lancet Infectious Diseases that a saliva test for HIV that’s already available is as accurate as a laboratory blood test. The oral test could be a powerful weapon against AIDS, because people can take the test in private, which may encourage more people to check their HIV status. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.