LOS ANGELES, USA: Salivary fluid has become an emerging medium for the detection of oral and systemic diseases, as well as for health surveillance in recent years. Now, a study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has shown that a simple saliva test conducted in the dental practice could be capable of diagnosing serious illnesses such as diabetes and cancer at an early stage.
The UCLA School of Dentistry has been researching biomarkers in saliva for over a decade. In the present study, the researchers analyzed 165 million genetic sequences and discovered that saliva contains various RNAs that are biomarkers for diseases and can thus be used to detect and monitor diseases.
According to the researchers, the study is the most comprehensive analysis ever conducted on RNA molecules in saliva. It found that saliva contains many of the same disease-revealing molecules that are contained in blood. Overall, they were able to identify more than 400 circular RNAs in human saliva, including 327 forms that were previously unknown. By comparing microRNA levels in saliva to those in blood and other body fluids, they also found that these levels were very similar, indicating that a saliva sample could serve as a good measure of microRNA in the body.
Dr. David Wong, a senior author of the study and associate dean of research at the school, suggested that dentists might be able to take saliva samples to analyze for a variety of diseases, including Type 2 diabetes and gastric cancer, in the future. The findings could also lead to a new category of self-diagnostic devices, he said.
The study will be published in the January 2015 special print issue of the Clinical Chemistry journal, titled Molecular Diagnostics: A Revolution in Progress.