Imagine having your cholesterol tested without the prick from a needle? A recent research article published by Dr. James Burgess in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society suggests that this test is not far from reality. Burgess, Department Chair of Medical Laboratory, Imagining and Radiologic Sciences at Augusta University, collaborated with several researchers to study “Microelectrode Detection of Cholesterol Efflux from the Human Buccal Mucosa.” Non-invasive cholesterol testing could have significant implications for public health in the near future.
The first studies of the Burgess team focused on testing for cholesterol efflux in patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Cholesterol efflux serves as an inflammatory marker of CF and there was a need to develop a non-invasive test for disease markers. The simple test uses a microelectrode placed in contact with the tissue surface of the inner mouth. Ultimately, the study concluded that cholesterol can be extracted and detected from the plasma membrane of cells at the surface of the mouth.
Further research has high potential in cholesterol measurement that would be accessible to a wide range of the population, including children who are at risk for diseases such as diabetes which has been linked to high cholesterol. In case of heart disease, this test would allow for earlier intervention. In addition, this new methodology provides insight into the cellular biology of disease mechanisms. Therefore, the cost-effective routine test results may provide a picture of an individual’s overall health as opposed to just a snapshot of their health which often occurs with current blood tests. Non-invasive cholesterol measurements offer an unprecedented opportunity for personalized treatment plan.