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Research focuses on saliva for detecting disease

Could saliva be the key to diagnosing disease in the future? Research institutions across the United States are focusing on the potential of this common bodily fluid for detecting disease without the need to draw blood or perform other invasive procedures.

In a recent issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association, authors Dr. Bruce L. Philstrom and Dr. Lawrence Tabak of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research described saliva and salivary gland research currently underway at the nation's primary dental research institute.

"As we enter the era of molecular medicine, increasing use of salivary diagnostics will help catalyze a shift from disease diagnosis to health surveillance," they wrote. "Saliva is a noninvasive medium from which a wide range of hormones, pharmaceuticals and antibodies can be measured as a convenient source of host and microbial DNA."

In June, Dr. David T.W. Wong of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry spoke to national media representatives at the American Dental Association-sponsored conference, "Face of the Future: The New Oral Biology," about research using highly sensitive, highly specific nanotechnology-based sensors to detect disease-bearing biomarkers in saliva.

"Early detection is the holy grail of diagnosing disease," Dr. Wong said. "Saliva is the most logical, acceptable bodily fluid for disease diagnostics because it's easy for dentists to obtain, and patients prefer it as a non-painful, non-invasive and non-embarrassing procedure."

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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