autoimmune research

A Dentist Thinks about Salivary Diagnostics

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Salivary diagnostics may be a cheaper, faster, better way to diagnose certain diseases. Already effective in oral cancer and Sjorgen’s syndrome, researchers are looking to expand the potential of using saliva.

Blood tests and biopsies are invasive, expensive and time consuming to collect and process. As seen above, salivary diagnostics can save up to 5300 hours of time, and can be done at home, allowing communities and countries that don’t have access to necessary medical supplies perform these tests.

What is Salivary Diagnostics 

Human saliva, which consists of proteins and trace amounts of blood serum, is a secretion from glands into the mouth to help with digestion. Salivary diagnostics is using this secretion, saliva, to diagnose and treat a number of disease and monitor hormone levels in an individual.  The NIH and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) are largely funding research efforts to find all the diseases that can be diagnosed from less invasive saliva samples.

History of Salivary Diagnostics

Diagnoses via saliva is not a new concept, the practice dates back to the early 1990’s when Dr. Michael and Dr. Kirk began research into using saliva to diagnose rheumatism and gout.  Today researchers have come a long way from the original work of Kirk and Michael, today they have identified over 1166 proteins in human saliva.

The other key applications include, “1)developing the diagnostic “alphabets” for saliva; and 2) the design and development of new biosensor technologies capable of fast and effective saliva-based testing for use in clinical settings.“

Relation to Genomics/Proteomics

The effort to use salivary diagnostics is converging with the current technology allowing researchers to sequence and study the human proteome and genome.  Using sequencing and analysis, doctors will be able to sequence and study the salivary proteome to gain insights into oral and systemic diseases.

When will spitting into the cup become a standard diagnostic tool?

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