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News / January 15, 2008

Saliva testing set to diagnose breast cancer

by Guy Hiscott

Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston can identify and quantify specific protein markers in human saliva to provide an early, non-invasive diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published in a recent issue of Cancer Investigation.

The study describes how the onset of breast cancer produces a change in the normal type and amount of proteins in glandular secretions from the salivary glands. The protein profile in a healthy person is altered by the presence of cancer.

The study is being applied to a ‘lab-on-a-chip’ technology platform developed by biochemists at The University of Texas at Austin. The ultimate goal is to bring this type of diagnostic test, which is capable of detecting the presence of cancer before a tumour forms, into the dental practice or other healthcare facilities. The technology aims to improve the ease and effectiveness with which dental professionals and other healthcare providers can provide quick, accurate diagnostic information and physician referrals to their patients.

‘Why not the dentist?’ asked lead researcher Charles Streckfus DDS, a professor of diagnostic sciences with an expertise in salivary function and molecular epidemiology. ‘Most folks, especially women and children, visit the dental office way more often than they ever see the physician. Saliva is a non-invasive, quicker way for detection.’

The article, Breast cancer related proteins are present in saliva and are modulated secondary to ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast appears in the journal’s ‘iFirst’ section online:
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