Washington, Oct 1 : A simple test of saliva proteins could soon help doctors in detecting oral squamous cell carcinoma, a form of oral cancer, according to a new study.
Led by David T. Wong, D.M.D., D.M.Sc., professor and associate dean for research, at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry, this is the first study to globally evaluate saliva protein levels from oral cancer patients.
And as it's quite simple to collect and process saliva fluids, the discovery of these biomarkers may lead to a useful clinical tool for non-invasive diagnosis of oral cancer in the future.
"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," said Shen Hu, Ph.D., assistant professor of Oral Biology and Proteomics at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry.
The scientists have been working as part of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)'s Human Saliva Proteome Project, which focuses on identifying and cataloguing the proteomic components of saliva in healthy subjects.
Also supported by NIDCR, the study has shown the first translational utility of the salivary proteome for oral cancer detection.
For the study, saliva samples were collected from 64 patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma and 64 healthy patients.
Five candidate biomarkers were successfully validated using immunoassays: M2BP, MRP14, CD59, profilin and catalase.
The presence of these biomarkers confirmed the presence of oral cancer 93 percent of the time.
"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," said Hu.
The study was published in the latest issue of Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.