Your saliva does more than taking care of your oral health and improving pre-digestion: it may also hold the key to early detection of some of the most common but debilitating diseases in the world such as cancer and diabetes.
A new study has just revealed the power of saliva and its significant potential use to detecting diseases including cancer and diabetes, as well as dementia and autoimmune disorders, early.
Dr. David Wong, the lead author who also works as UCLA's dental expert, and Grace Xiao, another senior author and the university's integrative biology and physiology associate professor, analyzed over a hundred million genetic sequences, making this study the largest it's ever been on saliva molecules.
Based on their research, they discovered that saliva also contains RNA found in human cells such as blood, which is a very interesting finding since the enzymes found in saliva can potentially degrade RNA.
Nevertheless, the presence of RNA is the chief reason why saliva can be the tool health experts need to diagnose and treat disorders early and correctly.
RNA works alongside DNA, carrying out its instructions and interacts with other cellular components through a variety of biochemical processes.
During the course of Wong's research over the last 10 years, they discovered different RNAs such as circular RNA, piwi-interacting RNA, and microRNA.
According to more recent studies, microRNA structures and changes are often associated with certain types of cancer. The circular RNAs, meanwhile, acts as a shield for the microRNAs, which may prevent their degradation caused by saliva enzymes. The piwi-interacting RNAs, they hypothesize, help prevent viral infections. These RNAs are found in other types of cells, but they are significantly abundant in saliva.
The researchers are eager to expand and proceed to other aspects of their study, but given these results, Dr. Wong believes that saliva may be harnessed and used as a self-diagnostic tool.