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Searching Your Spit for Signs of Disease

Saliva Diagnostics ResearchA new study in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Proteome Research demonstrates that individuals may have saliva “fingerprints.” The finding suggests that identifying changes in these baseline fingerprints could someday be a reliable way to detect disease.

In the search for non-invasive and less stress-inducing ways to detect disease, much effort has focused on urine testing. Individuals’ urine samples have specific metabolic signatures that can become altered when a person develops a health problem. But compounds in urine can also vary depending on factors such as diet and environment.

Saliva has similar potential as an easy-to-access fluid that changes in response to health conditions, but could be less affected by diet and the environment.

Researchers Paola Turano, Kurt Zatloukal and colleagues sampled saliva and urine from 23 healthy volunteers multiple times a day over 10 days. The molecular signatures of saliva and urine were distinct and consistent for each participant. But profiles from spit samples changed less due to dietary variations than those from urine.

Although longer-term research would be needed, this initial work on saliva fingerprints suggests that they could be useful in searching for signs of disease, say the researchers.

Read more: Individual Human Metabolic Phenotype Analyzed by 1H NMR of Saliva Samples

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