As a board-certified ear, nose and throat physician who works as a dedicated rhinologist at Sinus and Nasal Specialists of Louisiana, he loves diving into the science behind the human body and unraveling why certain things behave the way they do.
So when the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head in 2020, it was Barham’s time to shine.
He began research on a group of taste receptors that hadn’t been extensively studied in response to viruses before—and found a connection between a person’s ability to perceive certain bitter stimulants and the symptoms and severity of their COVID-19 infection.
Researchers used his findings to then design an accurate, inexpensive taste test that can be administered at home with instant, detailed results. Consumers can now order the test online at phenomune.com.
“I love the science of it,” Barham says. “And from a scientific point, I think the beauty of this whole thing is you have a safe, inexpensive, easily scalable test that could be available to anyone in the world during a time of pandemic. The test itself is not a treatment—it’s information. Right or wrong, we’re at a time where people distrust health care; they distrust pharmaceutical companies. You have one group who loves the vaccine, and you have one group who thinks that it’s some ultimate scheme. Regardless, it’s split. And so the beauty of this thing in my mind is that it’s not pushing a medication. It’s literally giving people information about their health status that allows them to make better decisions on their own without pressure.”
After months of clinical trials—some of which are still ongoing and others which are being planned for the future—Barham’s work has also led to the development of a nasal spray that is being studied as a separate COVID-19 preventative.
There are more variations of the spray that will be studied and tested soon. With the omicron variant and the possibility of future mutations keeping fears about the virus alive, Barham’s studies are more important now than ever before. sinusandnasalspecialists.com
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This article was originally published in the January 2022 issue of 225 magazine.