27 October, 2020

Nutrition Warriors | Believe It Or Not, Using Saliva To Pre-Diagnose Protein Energy Malnutrition

Mohammed Suhail CS from near Mysore dropped out of Class 12 and was inspired by a Stanford professor to devise an inexpensive test to check protein deficiency

Whiz Kid Mohammed Suhail’s saliva test does away with the need for a blood test to diagnose malnutrition
Photograph by Ajay Sukumaran
Nutrition Warriors | Believe It Or Not, Using Saliva To Pre-Diagnose Protein Energy Malnutrition
outlookindia.com
2020-01-10T16:08:53+05:30

Mohammed Suhail C.S., an 18-year-old from Srirangapatna near Mysore, dropped out of Class 12 in 2017 to work on a science project that won him multiple awards. His pathbreaking idea? A low-cost paper tool that checks for protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) using just saliva.

Inspired by Stanford professor Manu Prakash’s innovations using inexpensive tools such as paper, he and a friend sought to make a dent in malnutrition. The idea of using saliva to pre-diagnose PEM arose when Suhail recalled his biology lesson on the ­digestive system. “I had learnt how saliva acts on carbohydrates. My final lab experiment was on the detection of carbohydrates using iodine, which turns starch blue-black. “There was one common ingredient in both: carbohydrates. I was curious to know what would happen if I put these together.” So he bought iodine from a local shop, added it to glucose powder and convinced his family to spit on it. “The crazy thing happened when I started adding saliva. It led to a reverse colour change—from black to white. All my...

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