US researchers have identified all the 1 166 proteins in human saliva in a breakthrough which could become a new tool for diagnosing killer diseases like cancer, a new study suggests.
Patients may soon be able to spit in a cup for tests for such illnesses as cancer, heart disease and diabetes thanks to the work of three teams of researchers.
"Replacing blood draws with saliva tests promises to make disease diagnosis, as well as the tracking of treatment efficacy, less invasive and costly," said the study published in the Journal of Proteome Research.
"Our work, and the work of our partners, has shown that salivary proteins may represent new tools for tracking disease throughout the body, tools that are potentially easier to monitor in saliva than in blood," added author James Melvin, director of the Centre for Oral Biology at the University of Rochester Medical Centre.
Saliva protein same as blood
Saliva, collected from 23 adults of several races and both sexes, was subjected to mass spectrometry, which identifies proteins by measuring their mass and charge.
The studies showed that about a third of the proteins in saliva were the same as in blood.
A number of saliva proteins also matched proteins which played a role in diseases such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's as well as breast and pancreatic cancer and diabetes.
"We believe these projects will dramatically accelerate diagnosis and improve prognosis by treating diseases at the earliest stages," said Mireya Gonzalez Begne, research assistant professor of dentistry at the centre.
"Researchers have already shown that saliva proteins can be used to detect oral cancer and HIV infection.
"We think this list will soon expand to include leading causes of death like cancer and heart disease, which, if caught early, are much more likely to be successfully treated." – (Sapa)
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