Lollipops in health centers are usually used to reward children after procedures with their healthcare professional, but a new twist on this idea could soon make some diagnostic testing more agreeable.
Move over traditional throat swabs and spit tubes, scientists are developing a new lollipop-based saliva collection system to detect bacteria from the mouth and throat to test for illnesses like strep throat.
The system has a spoon-like plastic stick with spiral grooves in it covered in candy. Suck the lollipop and the candy dissolves while the grooves collect saliva — and the bacteria in it — for testing.
Spit Test Without the Ick
Makers of the system called CandyCollect recently tested their approach against two other common at-home saliva tests — a spit tube and a mouth swab.
In the study of 28 people across the United States, participants collected saliva with all three methods, using candy, a conventional tube, and a swab, and sent their samples back to the lab.
Investigators report the lollipops were just as effective as the two other methods and detected target bacteria 100% of the time. In the study results, published online in the journal Analytical Chemistry, the scientists note they found the lollipop collection system continued to produce accurate results after being stored for up to a year before use.
And the lollipops were much more popular among the participants, who described them as “more sanitary” and “less disgusting” than the other tests — especially the one that involved spitting in a tube.
With a new candy-coated option, will people soon look forward to testing for illnesses like strep throat?