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Researchers Assemble Panel of Salivary Biomarkers

October 16, 2008

2D gel patterns of whole saliva proteins from OSCC patientsThe year 2008 has been an exciting one in the incremental development of salivary diagnostics.  In March, a consortium of NIDCR-supported scientists completed the first catalogue of the human salivary proteome, or the full set of 1,166 proteins present in saliva.  This online tool, like a dictionary to a writer, will help enable the future testing of saliva as a standard body fluid to detect early signs of disease. Now, as published in the October 1 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research, a team of NIDCR grantees has assembled the first panel of salivary protein biomarkers to detect oral squamous cell carcinoma, or OSCC, the most common form of the oral cancers. The panel consists of five biomarkers that were measurably different in the pooled whole saliva sample of 16 OSCC patients compared to the one from 16 healthy volunteers.  The biomarkers were then validated individually in 48 new OSCC patients and 48 healthy control subjects.  According to the group’s initial analyses, the panel yielded 93 percent sensitivity and 83 percent specificity in detecting OSCC. Sensitivity refers to how well a test correctly identifies people who have a disease, while specificity characterizes the ability of a test to correctly identify those who are well.  The authors, however, stressed that these potential biomarkers still “need to be extensively validated” in follow up laboratory and clinical studies.  This follow-up work is already well under way.


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This page last updated: April 01, 2014