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Nov 17, 2016 09:11 AM EST

Molecules Left On Your Mobile Phone Say A Lot About your Lifestyle

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Your mobile phone is one of the top objects you get your hands laid into most of the time in a day. And today, scientists have found a way to analyze your profile and your lifestyle by means of the molecules you leave your phone.

The researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences were able to come up with the unique profile of the owner of the phones by taking swabs from the phones of 39 volunteers with the use of a technique called mass spectrometry. And then, they used these results and compared them to the chemical composition of thousands of products and drugs using the records in the Global Natural Product Social Molecular Networking Database.

Pieter Dorrestein, PhD, one of the researchers said these chemical traces can be transferred to other objects. "We realized we could probably come up with a profile of a person's lifestyle based on chemistries we can detect on objects they frequently use." He said.

The researchers were actually surprised when they found out that the molecular features from the skin swabs actually came from medications, hygiene, and beauty products such as anti-depressants, skin creams, hair loss treatments and eye drops.

The study enabled the team to identify the gender of the mobile phone owner and was even able to come up with a theory as to whether a person is suffering from certain conditions like depression and skin allergies based on the findings. They were also able to tell the lifestyle preferences of a person, what they like to eat or drink.

This profiling technique is said to be very useful in the investigation and in identifying suspects as well as victims in criminal cases.

"You can imagine a scenario where a crime scene investigator comes across a personal object - like a phone, pen or key - without fingerprints or DNA, or with prints or DNA not found in the database," said senior author Dr Pieter Dorrenstein. "So we thought - what if we take advantage of left-behind skin chemistry to tell us what kind of lifestyle this person has?" he added.

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