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She spits for a cause

Georgia Morfino is working hard to produce some spit.

Georgia Morfino is working hard to produce some spit.

Her lips are pursed. Her brow is furrowed. Her cheeks are moving in and out.

Then the nine-year-old lets loose.

Her spit falls neatly into a plastic tube, which soon — after 10 more additions from Georgia — will be filled.

The tube of saliva is part the Spit for Science project, hosted by the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto and run by researchers from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

The team aims to collect spit samples and behavioural data from 10,000 children between seven and 17 in the hope of identifying genes important in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, two of the most common childhood disorders.

Project leader Dr. Russell Schachar, psychiatrist and senior scientist at Sick Kids, says the spit projectmay lead to new therapies and may help researchers figure out why some people develop the disorders while others don’t.

The project will run daily at the Science Centre until Labour Day.

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