The UCLA School of Dentistry recently received 5 million dollars in funding from the National Institutes for Health to study biological markers in saliva to detect stomach cancer.
There are hopes that this study could advance salivary diagnostics, potentially leading to evidence that saliva can be used to detect other types of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer, as well as diabetes.
The ultimate goal is this: Patients give a saliva sample at the dental office, have it analyzed within minutes, and then are able to find out if they are at risk for stomach cancer.
The research is slated to last five years, and Dr. David Wong is leading the study. As the dentistry school’s associate dean of research, he is considered a pioneer in the field of salivary diagnostics.Dr. Wong’s team will conduct a prospective study to develop a salivary biomarker panel that would validate stomach cancer detection. The team hopes to capture RNA in saliva samples secreted by stomach cancer cells. This would confirm whether a patient is at risk for stomach cancer.