Give a spit (for science)

Day 346 of #LiveWell2017

Day 346 Give a meal

DNA technology has advanced so quickly that a simple sample of saliva can help researchers figure out all kinds of things about our bodies and how they work. It has boosted genetic research around the globe. If you want to be a part of a scientific research project that could further medicine and improve lives, spitting in a tube is an easy gift to give to science. Here are some ways to do it…

Autism Sisters Project

No one talked about autism when I was growing up. In fact, it wasn’t until the 2000’s when autism really became a hot topic of discussion in the mainstream. As a teacher, I saw a dramatic rise in students diagnosed with autism, and special classes were established to help those children learn. Statistically, four times as many boys are diagnosed with autism than girls, even when brothers and sisters have identical genetics. The big question, then, is what is protecting these girls from autism?

To answer that question, the Autism Sisters Project is trying to collect spit samples from as many sister siblings of autistic boys as they can. These DNA samples will be analyzed to find out what is protecting the girls from developing autism and then, hopefully, that will lead to a drug or a therapy that will help the boys. So, if you know any families who have children with autism, please tell them about this study and ask them to participate. If you don’t have friends or family members who can participate, you can still donate to the cause with a financial contribution to the Seaver Autism Center at Mt. Sinai or the Autism Science Foundation designated to support the Autism Sisters Project.


Give a Spit About Cancer

When I was growing up, that C word was rarely spoken. Not much was known about cancer then. As of August 2016, cancer has overtaken heart disease as the biggest killer in 12 European countries, and, according to the National Cancer Institute, 39.6% of men and women in the US will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Worldwide, cancer diagnoses are expected to increase by 50% by 2030 and cancer deaths are expected to increase by 60%. Those are startling statistics any way you look at them, but there is good news. In the US, cancer death rates decreased by 13% between 2004 and 2013. Research has helped us understand these diseases better and enabled new treatments to cure or delay the impacts of cancer.

Give a spit about cancer has closed its saliva collection campaign, but has a new mouth-swabbing campaign (that’s almost as fun, right?) that you can join to help fight blood cancer.  If you want to help move the needle on cancer cures and treatments, join this DNA swab campaign and give the gift of spit.

DNA Simple

Not interested in autism or cancer? DNA Simple matches potential saliva donors to current genetic research efforts in all kinds of fields. You fill out a brief questionnaire on their website and if you match a current genetic study looking for subjects, you will be sent information about that study. You review the study, and if you decide you want to participate, DNA Simple sends you a saliva collection tube. You spit. The saliva goes anonymously to the researcher, and you help further scientific research. (Oh, and you get paid.)

Give a spit about something!


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