New research shows it is possible to diagnose asthma from a patient’s saliva. The method, which uses mass spectrometry to look for metabolic markers, holds promise as a non-invasive way to test for a condition that affects millions of people, many of whom are children.

For the study, the researchers collected saliva from patients with asthma and healthy people. They then analyzed the samples using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to identify and quantify “metabolic biomarkers” unique to the asthma samples.

The team notes in the study report: “Ten discriminant features were identified that distinguished between moderate asthma and healthy control samples with an overall recognition ability of 80 percent during training of the model and 97 percent for model cross-validation.”