Once overlooked in noninvasive diagnostics, saliva has become an attractive body fluid for on-site, remote, and real-time monitoring of oral and systemic health. With saliva signatures now recognized by thousands of identifiable salivary proteins, a new public database that catalogs and curates this data in relation to disease studies offers a promising resource for hospitals involved in clinical research
Precision medicine often uses a person’s unique genomic makeup to determine how they will respond to certain treatments and to provide interventions that are specifically tailored to them rather than to the general population. While precision medicine has primarily focused on genetic differences between individuals, other ways of determining differences between individuals are showing promise.
For several years, testing methods such as epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics have used saliva in attempts to evaluate the physiological differences between individuals. Testing on human saliva has resulted in the first public platform to catalog and curate the data on the thousands of proteins found in saliva, allowing researchers and clinicians to quickly recognize individual-specific differences.
With the new community-driven saliva proteins database, research into noninvasive diagnostics using saliva will continue toward advancing precision medicine-based treatments.
Seeing Health Risk and Diagnostics Through Salivary Profiles
The Human Salivary Proteome Wiki was developed in a collaboration supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The wiki provides a public database that can be used to recognize differences in people’s salivary proteins. It can also be used to develop individualized treatments based on a person’s unique salivary profile.
Unique traits and potential applications of the saliva protein database were outlined in an article published in the Journal of Dental Research in late May 2021.
“This community-based data and knowledge base will pave the way to harness the full potential of the salivary proteome for diagnosis, risk prediction, and therapy for oral and systemic diseases, and increase preparedness for future emerging diseases and pandemics,” Stefan Ruhl, DDS, PhD, lead investigator of the study, curator of the Human Salivary Proteome Wiki, and professor of oral biology in the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, said in a recent interview.
Saliva-based testing has grown in use and popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its ease of collection. In recent years, saliva proteome signatures toward health insights have been noted with pregnancy, Type 1 diabetes, lung cancer, and other condition areas. Collecting and analyzing saliva offers a noninvasive method of testing for individual-specific differences. This is due to the ease and cost-effectiveness of saliva collection and analysis compared to other precision medicine testing.
NIH Backs Saliva-Based Diagnostics
Research over the past 10 years now links human saliva proteins in a multitude of ways.
“Saliva has become an attractive body fluid for on-site, remote and real-time monitoring of oral and systemic health,” said William Lau, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and first author of the study. “The scientific community needs a saliva-centered information platform that keeps pace with the rapid accumulation of new data and knowledge.”
“The Human Salivary Proteome Wiki will improve salivary sciences, saliva-based diagnostics, precision medicine and dentistry, and ultimately facilitate personalized treatment for both oral and systemic diseases,” added Preethi Chander, PhD, program director of the NIDCR Salivary Biology and Immunology Program.
The saliva-based database will continue to improve in the upcoming years as researchers are able to submit proposals to add, alter, or remove data if there is scientifically valid research supporting the requested changes. This helps to improve the database while also ensuring that the quality of the database continues to improve.
Hospitals that are involved in clinical research will benefit from access to this free, in-depth resource because the HSP Wiki incorporates data from human disease–related studies. Hospitals that are focused on improving their precision medicine offerings will also want to monitor improvements and applications of saliva-based precision medicine treatments. By integrating emerging advances into current and developing patient offerings, hospitals will stay at the forefront of medical science.
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