Wednesday, 01 Oct, 2008 Science

Scientists to Identify Oral Cancer Through Saliva Test


Oral squamous cell carcinoma, which is one of the forms of oral cancer, can now be identified using a rather simple test that observes proteins in saliva. The study and its results were published in the journal "Clinical Cancer Research".

The research was conducted by David T. Wong, D.M.D., D.M.Sc, professor and associate dean for research from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry. From earlier studies, researches discovered that saliva can be used as a diagnostic instrument. However, this particular study is the first to estimate the level of proteins in saliva in patients suffering from oral cancer.

Due to the fact that collecting and processing saliva samples eliminates any invasive diagnosis of oral cancer, the discovery may prove to be very helpful.

"This test is currently not available, but we are developing point-of-care microfluidic devices to detect these markers that we can use in clinical trials," noted Shen Hu, Ph.D., assistant professor of Oral Biology and Proteomics at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry.

The work of Wong and Hu was supported by National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Scientists gathered saliva samples from 64 patients that have oral squamous cell carcinoma and 64 healthy patients. Researchers identified five candidate biomarkers with the help of immunoassays: M2BP, MRP14, CD59, profilin and catalase. The presence of these biomarkers means that there is a 93 percent possibility of oral cancer presence.

"I believe a test measuring these biomarkers will come to a point of regular use in the future. We have demonstrated a new approach for cancer biomarker discovery using saliva proteomics," outlined Hu.


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