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Multiple Salivary Biomarkers for Lung Cancer Detection

Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Investigator(s): Lei Zhang, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2010 (Cycle 19) Grant #: 19KT-0016 Award: $241,103
Subject Area: Cancer
Award Type: New Investigator Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and the second most common in women. In the U.S. it is estimated that there are 45 million current and 45 million former smokers at risk for developing lung cancer and this disease is estimated to remain a major health problem for at least the next 50 years. Over 75% of lung cancer patients are diagnosed in late stages because there remains no practical way to screen a large number of people at risk. Strategies to detect lung cancer at early stage and identify high-risk individuals are sorely needed. Lung cancer may be seen on chest x-ray and computed tomography (CT scan). The diagnosis is confirmed with a biopsy. However, these procedures are either invasive, lack of specificity and sensitivity, or costly, which prevent them from large population screening. It is timely to develop a novel detection and screening tool for lung cancer. As a mirror of the body, saliva is readily accessible noninvasively. There are diverse contents in saliva, including DNA, RNA, protein and bacteria. It has been recognized that salivary contents are altered when the health status change. The altered telltale molecules, or biomarkers, could be used to monitor the health status, disease onset, treatment responsiveness and outcome. Informative biomarkers can serve as early sentinels for disease detection and screening. The goal of this TRDRP application is to develop a state-of-the-art method for early detection and screening of lung cancer, which is one of the TRDRP primary research areas. We hypothesize that clinically discriminatory biomarkers for lung cancer detection are present in saliva. Two high throughput technologies, specifically mRNA and bacterial approaches, will be applied to search for discriminatory biomarkers that could be used to screen large populations noninvasively and identify individuals with lung cancer at the early stage. The outcome of this study will provide multiple salivary biomarkers for screening and early detection of lung cancer. Our current data strongly support that the salivary mRNA and bacterial biomarkers will emerge as highly specific and sensitive tools for lung cancer detection in saliva, a non-invasive biofluid. We are optimistic that saliva-based early detection of lung cancer will offer the promise of improved cure rates of this high-impact cancer.