PHILADELPHIA — Researchers continue to add to the diagnostic alphabet of saliva by identifying the presence of at least 50 microRNAs that could aid in the detection of oral cancer, according to a report in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
“It is a Holy Grail of cancer detection to be able to measure the presence of a cancer without a biopsy, so it is very appealing to think that we could detect a cancer-specific marker in a patient’s saliva,” said Jennifer Grandis, M.D., professor of otolaryngology and pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Cancer Institute and a senior editor of Clinical Cancer Research.
MicroRNAs are molecules produced in cells that have the ability to simultaneously control activity and assess the behavior of multiple genes. They are a thriving research topic right now, and researchers believe they could hold the key to early detection of cancer. The emergence of a microRNA profile in saliva represents a major step forward in the early detection of oral cancer.
“The oral cavity is a mirror to systemic health, and many diseases that develop in other parts of the body have an oral manifestation,” said David T. Wong, D.M.D., D.M.Sc., Felix and Mildred Yip Endowed Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry.
Wong and colleagues measured microRNA levels in the saliva of 50 patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma and 50 healthy control patients. They detected approximately 50 microRNAs.
Two specific microRNAs, miR-125a and miR-200a, were present at significantly lower levels in patients with oral cancer than in the healthier controls.
Wong said that the findings of this study would have to be confirmed by a larger and longer analysis.
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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes more than 28,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and nearly 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.