STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Non-invasive skin swab tests can quickly detect COVID-19: Lancet study

The most widely used approach to testing for COVID-19 requires a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which involves taking a swab of the back of the throat and far inside the nose.

Published: 16th March 2021 12:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2021 12:40 PM   |  A+A-

A communter undergoes Covid test in Noida on Wednesday. People arriving from Delhi are being randomly tested. (Photo | Parveen Negi, EPS)

A communter undergoes a traditional Covid test in Noida. (Photo | Parveen Negi, EPS)

By PTI

LONDON: Non-invasive skin swab samples may be enough to detect the novel coronavirus quickly, according to a study published in the Lancet E Clinical Medicine journal.

Researchers at the University of Surrey in the UK noted that COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented demand for testing -- for diagnosis and prognosis -- as well as for investigation into the impact of the disease on the 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 does to us, rather than looking for the virus itself, they said.

The most widely used approach to testing for COVID-19 requires a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which involves taking a swab of the back of the throat and far inside the nose.

The researchers collected sebum samples from 67 hospitalised patients -- 30 who had tested positive for COVID-19 and 37 who had tested negative.

The samples were collected by gently swabbing a skin area rich in sebum such as the face, neck or back.

The team analysed the samples by using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry and a statistical modelling technique to differentiate 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 medication and additional health conditions were controlled.

"Our study suggests that we may be able to use non-invasive means to test for diseases such as COVID-19 in the future -- a development which I am sure will be welcomed by all," said Melanie Bailey, co-author of the study from the University of Surrey.

Matt Spick, co-author of the study from the University of Surrey noted that COVID-19 damages many areas of metabolism.

"In this work, we show that the skin lipidome can be added to the list, which could have implications for the skin's barrier function, as well as being a detectable symptom of the disease itself," Spick said.

Investigating new methods of diagnosis and surveillance in a new disease such as COVID-19 that has had such a devastating effect on the world is vital, according to George Evetts, Consultant in Anaesthesia & Intensive Care Medicine at Frimley Park Hospital.

"Sebum sampling is a simple, non-invasive method that shows promise for both diagnostics and monitoring of the disease in both a healthcare and a non-healthcare setting," Evetts added.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp