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Could a simple swab of saliva predict cancer?

The eyes may be the window to the soul, but could saliva be a snapshot of your overall health? Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles are beginning to suggest that saliva may contain certain markers that can predict diseases including cancer.

salivary diagnostics

Dr. David Wong, a professor and head researcher at UCLA has sequenced over 160 million genes in saliva and published a study last year on RNA in saliva reporting the presence of circular RNA in saliva.

What is RNA?

RNA is ribonucleic acid. It is genetic material similar to DNA that is often translated to produce proteins.

What does this mean?

Researchers believe that circular RNA may actually protect microRNA's that are implicated in cancer from being degraded. What is even more fascinating is that the levels of microRNA's found in saliva are similar to those found in blood so a sample of saliva may actually be sufficient to measure microRNA's in the body. In addition to the presence of microRNAs, saliva contains several other types of RNA's that constitute markers for several diseases.

What's the bottom line?

Although further research is needed, perhaps, in the future, saliva samples will be taken as a standard to help predict various diseases. How cool would that be?

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