Soon doctors across the county could be offering a new pain-free lead test, thanks to two start-up companies collaborating in the Venture Development Center. Last week OFT Labs and GeoMed Analytical announced the results of a clinical trial designed and correlated by Dr. Anil T. Mangla, Chief Lead Epidemiologist for the Division of Public Health in Atlanta. This was the first clinical trial of its kind, and was completed at Emory University Hospital.

“The success of this study is a milestone for lead testing on a universal scale,” said Dr. Mangla.

Until now, the only accurate way to test for lead poisoning was through invasive needle or finger sticks. The trial found that oral fluid swabs can be used successfully to measure lead levels in children.

The analytical technique was invented by UMass Boston’s Dr. Robyn Hannigan, a researcher in heavy metals and neurological diseases. If a child’s cognitive abilities have been damaged by exposure to lead, the damage can’t be reversed, experts at the National Institutes of Health say.

Watch an interview of Hannigan by ABC Channel 5 in Boston. – WJB