George Mason professors collect kids’ spit for concussion research

WASHINGTON – Once a week, 12- and 13-year-olds on a Loudoun County football league spit in a bucket after practice — for science.

The Fairfax Times reports George Mason University professors Shane Caswell and Chip Petricoin are testing the saliva in hopes it can be used to detect concussions. The samples are frozen and tested against one another with the goal of finding patterns that sync with repeated head trauma.

The in-depth study uses Central Loudoun Youth Football League players’ spit to compile and identify protein biomarkers.

“The process generates an information archive that’s larger than anyone’s ever seen before in saliva,” Petricoin told the Fairfax Times.

The researchers envision a day when their findings lead to a mouthguard that turns from clear to blue when an athlete gets a concussion. But, right now, the research is only in the beginning stages.

WTOP’s Thomas Warren contributed to this report.

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