Non-invasive skin swab tests can quickly detect Covid: Lancet

Non-invasive skin swab tests can quickly detect Covid: Lancet
LONDON: Noninvasive skin swab samples may be enough to quickly detect the new coronavirus, according to a study published in the journal Lancet E Clinical Medicine.
Researchers from the University of Surrey in the UK noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented demand for testing – for diagnosis and prognosis – and for research into the impact of the disease on host metabolism.
Sampling sebum – an oily, waxy substance produced by the body's sebaceous glands – has the potential to support both needs by looking at what the virus is doing to us, rather than looking for the virus itself, they said they.
The most common approach to testing for Covid-19 requires a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which involves taking a swab from the back of the throat and well into the nose.
The researchers collected sebum samples from 67 hospitalized patients – 30 who tested positive for Covid-19 and 37 who tested negative
The samples were collected by gently wiping an area of ​​skin rich in sebum, such as the face, neck, or back.
The team analyzed the samples using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry and a statistical modeling technique to distinguish between the Covid-19 positive and negative samples.
The researchers, including those from the universities of Manchester and Leicester, found that patients with a positive Covid-19 test had lower lipid levels – or dyslipidemia – than their counterparts with a negative test.
They noted that the accuracy of the findings increased further when medications and additional health concerns were monitored.
"Our study suggests that in the future we may be able to use non-invasive agents to test for diseases such as Covid-19 – a development that I am sure will be welcomed by everyone," said Melanie Bailey, co-author of the study from the University of Surrey.
Matt Spick, co-author of the University of Surrey study, noted that Covid-19 damages many areas of the metabolism.
"In this work, we show that the cutaneous lipidom can be added to the list, which can affect the skin's barrier function as well as a detectable symptom of the disease itself," said Spick.
Research into new methods of diagnosis and monitoring in a new disease such as Covid-19 that has had such a devastating effect on the world is vital, said George Evetts, consultant in Anesthesia & Intensive Care Medicine at Frimley Park Hospital.
"Talon sampling is a simple, non-invasive method that shows promise for both diagnosis and monitoring of the disease in both a healthcare and non-medical setting," added Evetts.

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