Trending Topics

UK researchers look at diagnosing stroke through saliva at the point of care

The University of Birmingham team will evaluate saliva, blood and urine samples in those with suspected stroke


University of Birmingham/Facebook

By Bill Carey

BIRMINGHAM, England — British researchers are set to collaborate on a study that could provide a rapid non-invasive diagnostic test that could quickly and accurately identify a stroke.

In a press release from the University of Birmingham, the study seeks to identify biomarkers in blood, urine or saliva for a rapid diagnosis.

Many paramedics rely on the FAST assessment (Face, Arms, Speech, and Time) to determine whether someone is having a stroke.

“FAST is not perfect. At the moment, paramedics can misdiagnose other conditions, such as seizures, such as stroke, and not all stroke patients have FAST symptoms,” Dr Richard Francis, head of research at the Stroke Association, said. “Having a saliva test would be a massive step forward in prehospital diagnosis for stroke and really help people to get the right diagnosis, to get to the right hospital for the right treatment and in the quickest time. The potential success of this trial may also massively benefit countries without ready access to brain scanning equipment.”

Saliva, blood and urine samples will be collected from patients with suspected stroke within the first hour after the onset of symptoms. Further sampling will continue in the hospital.

The research team will pay particular attention to salivary small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs). Research has concluded these small molecules could be used to identify concussions.

The researchers hope to identify sncRNAs that will accurately identify stroke and distinguish it from stroke-mimicking conditions, such as seizure or migraine, which account for 30-40% of emergency ambulance admissions with suspected stroke.