Saliva Tests Making Their Way to Routine Care

Simple, cheap diagnostic tests based on the analysis of saliva are within spitting distance of development, says a consortium of American researchers.

Dr. David T. Wong, director of the Dental Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles has teamed up with researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research; the University of California, San Francisco; and the Scripps Research Institute.

Together, the team is engaged in a painstaking mapping of so-called “diagnostic alphabets” present in saliva. Identifying the components of such alphabets is key to “reading” the signs of disease.

So far, two such alphabets are substantially decoded: one based on salivary proteins and another based on salivary messenger RNAs (mRNA) — molecules integral to the formation of proteins.

More than 1,500 salivary proteins have been identified, the authors noted, alongside about 3,000 mRNAs.

For more on saliva diagnostics, visit the American Association for Dental Research.

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