Posted 11/12/2015

An interesting article from Providence Journal Health about Health Source RI. Read it here:




Salivary diagnostics 
Pancreatic cancer biomarkers identified

Posted March 3, 2010

By Jennifer Garvin

Los Angeles—In what they hope will eventually lead to fewer deaths from pancreatic cancer, researchers have identified four early detection biomarkers of the disease in human saliva.

The study, which appears online in the March issue of Gastroenterology, is the first to demonstrate that recently developed salivary diagnostic tools can harness highly discriminatory biomarkers for systemic disease detection. It was conducted by investigators from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Dentistry, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA School of Public Health and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA.

"Worldwide, the prevalence of pancreatic cancer is so high, and the disease is so deadly, that it calls out for a reliable means of early diagnosis," said Dr. David Wong, the study's senior investigator and a member of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. "The ability to implement safe, cost-effective, widespread screening could be the answer to saving thousands of lives each year—and that is what we are after."

According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and the lifetime risk of developing it is about one in 72.

"As a clinician-scientist who manages patients with all stages of pancreatic cancer, I was eager to work with them to explore the possibilities it could yield in diagnosing this disease," said co-first author James Farrell, an associate professor in the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases and director of the Pancreatic Diseases Program at UCLA.

Dr. Wong, who is the UCLA Felix and Mildred Yip Professor of Dentistry and also the associate dean of research at the School of Dentistry, has previously published studies using salivary diagnostics to identify oral cancer.

Dr. Wong said he believes the new study points to dentists one day conducting screenings for numerous medical conditions—including pancreatic cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease—in their offices. He quoted a January article from The Journal of the American Dental Association, "Dentists' attitudes towards chairside screening for medical conditions," which surveyed more than 1,900 dentists on about the potential of performing oral screenings.

Of the responders, the article noted 87.7 percent indicated they would be willing to perform salivary diagnostics.

"This is an amazingly high number, higher than their willingness to screen for cardiovascular disease and diabetes," Dr. Wong said. "The future of dentistry has to be embedded in engaging and embracing molecularly based diagnostics. Salivary diagnostics for early detection of pancreatic cancer is an excellent example. A deadly cancer that has no early detection tools that is now detectable in early stages in saliva, noninvasively, inexpensively and based on credible science."

In the UCLA study, the researchers analyzed altered gene expression to identify four messenger RNA (mRNA) biomarkers, KRAS, MBD3L2, ACRV1 and DPM1, that differentiated pancreatic cancer patients from noncancer subjects with 90 percent sensitivity and 95 percent specificity. The study used a set of 30 pancreatic cancer patients, 30 chronic pancreatitis patients and 30 healthy controls to compare data in the findings.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the National Cancer Institute.