Early cancer diagnosis hopes with saliva test

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Early cancer diagnosis hopes with saliva test trial set to beginA saliva test to diagnose cancer could be the key to early diagnosis, resulting in clinical trials for a rapid testing method set to begin this year.

Tests so far have had promising results, and the technology has already proven its ability to diagnose a type of lung cancer by detecting biomarkers.

Professor David Wong, director at the University of California Los Angeles Centre for Oral/Head and Neck Oncology Research, told ABC’s PM he believes the new technology has the potential to revolutionise diagnostic processes.

Professor Wong and his associates hope the new cheaper and non-invasive process could soon be used to detect different cancers, as well as other illnesses—including neurological disorders and diabetes.

Professor Wong said their tests on this specific type of lung cancer had greatly improved the diagnostic process—particularly in terms of speed—for patients.

“The proof-of-concept disease that we worked on is a major form of lung cancer called non-small cell lung carcinoma, and there is an oncogene known as epidermal growth factor receptors—they’re two mutations,” said Professor Wong.

“There is a drug that is very effective in prolonging the life of these individuals, but you need to know if they have the mutations or not.

“Current practice is to do a broncoscopy, tissue biopsy, which is obviously invasive, and some patients are simply too frail to go through that procedure.

“So accessing this information through a non-invasive or minimally-invasive means is an unmet need, and that’s where our excitement is with this, is to have that capability to detect these… with a technology that [performs].”

The technology is set to be run through more testing in clinical trials across Asia and Europe over the coming year. So far though, the saliva test has shown a high level of accuracy and takes 10 minutes to perform.

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