● A 10-minute rapid and accurate saliva test for cancer could revolutionise cancer diagnosis
○ over 10 years of research led by oral cancer and saliva diagnostics researcher Prof. David Wong, of the School of Dentistry at UCLA
○ method called "liquid biopsy"
○ Prototype of the new test was described at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington DC.
■ detects circulating tumor DNA in bodily fluids such as saliva and blood
■ test looks for fragments of genetic material in a tiny drop of bodily fluid
■ more specifically the device uses electric field-induced release and measurement (EFIRM) to detect non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) biomarkers in saliva
■ The test works by detecting genetic mutations in a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)
● The protein normally helps cells grow and divide, but some NSCLC cells have too much EGFR, which makes them grow faster, turning into cancers
○ team came up with the test after discovering that saliva contained fragments of the genetic messenger molecule RNA linked to cancer.
● Early results from lung cancer patients suggest it has "near-perfect" accuracy
● Lead scientist says less than one drop of saliva is needed to run the test
○ and would only take about 10 minutes
● Why does this matter?
○ For cancer, early detection matters
○ The sooner you know about a cancer, the easier it can be to treat
● Theoretically, this new liquid biopsy can be done at home, at the pharmacy or at a doctor’s office.
● Trials in lung cancer patients in china will start this year
○ Hope the new test will be available in the UK within the next 10 years
● Although currently only for lung cancer, this “liquid biopsy will eventually be used to diagnose a range of different cancers
● this new cancer test is significant in that it promises rapid, less invasive identification of cancers
○ It would also help to track the disease progression during treatment more easily