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What Do the Molecules on Your Phone Reveal About Your Lifestyle?

NOV 21, 2016 | KRISTI ROSA
The researchers found a number of medications in the sample swabs which ranged from anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-depressants to hair loss treatments, as well as anti-fungal skin creams. The samples also allowed researchers to identify a number of food molecules that included caffeine, herbs, spices, and even citrus. Some of the molecules, such as sunscreen and DEET, were found to have remained on cell phones months after the owners used them, which led researchers to another discovery: the cell phones can also provide researchers with more long-term information.

Dr. Dorrestein and his team took their research a step further by collecting sample swabs from a number of other personal objects that are frequently and consistently used, such as keys and wallets, from 80 additional volunteers. The team hopes to be able to identify bacteria as well as other microbes that can be found on the skin and on frequently-used objects.

For obvious reasons, this finding can help create a profile of someone in the field of forensics, but the researchers feel that these “read outs” can also be an asset in the medical field. Physicians are constantly seeking ways to test antibiotic adherence and this may just be the answer they have been looking for. By analyzing metabolites on their patients’ skin, they can see if their patient is sticking to the prescribed antibiotic regimen. In addition, skin metabolites can help researchers when it comes to creating subgroups for clinical trials. By learning which patients can metabolize the medication, they can make sure to only administer the medication to that subgroup.
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