Today, during the 85th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, scientists are reporting that the use of saliva for clinical detection of major human diseases is only a few years away. Intense research is ongoing to discover diagnostic saliva biomarkers. A necessary prerequisite is to know, in a comprehensive manner, the informative biomarkers in saliva: the diagnostic alphabets. Like languages, which are synthesized from a foundation of alphabets, there are multiple diagnostic languages and thus diagnostic alphabets in saliva. The salivary proteome and the salivary transcriptome are two diagnostic alphabets that are ready for translational and clinical applications.
The human salivary proteome is a consortium effort by three National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research-supported research groups (Scripps/Rochester; UCSF, and UCLA), leading to the identification of over 1,500 proteins in saliva. The salivary transcriptome revealed ~3,000 mRNA species in saliva, of which 185 are common among all healthy subjects examined.
Using the salivary proteome and transcriptome as diagnostic alphabets to search for diagnostic signatures, the investigators have found five salivary proteins and four salivary RNA to be highly discriminatory for oral cancer (>90% clinical accuracy). They have also examined the saliva from patients with the autoimmune disease Sjogren's Syndrome, and have found a small subset of the salivary proteome and transcriptome to be highly discriminatory for this disease.