Scientists funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, reported today taking a major step forward in using saliva to detect oral cancer. As published in the current issue of Clinical Cancer Research, the scientists found they could measure for elevated levels of four distinct cancer-associated molecules in saliva and distinguish with 91 percent accuracy between healthy people and those diagnosed with oral squamous cell carcinoma.
This so-called "proof-of-principle" study marks the first report in the scientific literature that distinct patterns of "messenger RNA" not only are measurable in saliva but can indicate a developing tumor. Messenger RNA (mRNA) is the molecular intermediate between gene and protein, serving as a chemical record that an individual gene has been expressed.
According to David Wong, D.M.D., D.M.Sc., a scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Dentistry and senior author on the paper, it may be possible with further refinement of the test, possibly by including additional cancer-linked mRNAs, to attain the necessary 99 to 100 percent accuracy of commercial diagnostic tests for oral squamous cell carcinoma, the sixth most common cancer in the United States. Wong noted that currently no biochemical or genetic diagnostic tests are commercially available for oral cancer.
Bob Kuska | EurekAlert!
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