Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Cancer detection within spitting distance

Researchers Use Saliva to Detect Head and Neck Cancer (Newswise)

    In one of the first studies using the RNA in saliva to detect cancer, researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center were able to differentiate head and neck cancer patients from a group of healthy subjects based on biomarkers found in their spittle. The study provides a first proof of principle that may result in new diagnostic and early detection tools and will lead to further studies using saliva to detect other cancers.

    Published in the Dec. 15, 2004, issue of the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Cancer Research, the study used four RNA biomarkers to detect the presence of head and neck cancer with 91 percent sensitivity and accuracy, said Dr. David Wong, professor and chairman of Oral Biology and Medicine, director of the UCLA School of Dentistry, Dental Research Institute, and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher.

    “This is a new direction, using a non-invasive fluid for disease diagnostics, particularly in cancer,” said Wong. “This is our proof of principle. We now hope to demonstrate the utility of saliva for systemic diagnosis of other diseases such as breast cancer.”

    Typically, cancer researchers use blood serum and urine to look for cancer signatures. Saliva contains the same biomarkers for disease that are found in the blood, but they are present at much lower levels of magnitude. The emergence of nanotechnology allowing scientists to manipulate materials on an atomic or molecular scale helped researchers uncover the components of saliva, Wong said, and “changed the whole scene” for UCLA scientists.

    “It gave us the clue to look at what else is in saliva,” Wong said. More here

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