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A. Researchers Use Saliva to Detect Head and Neck Cancer

Narrator: This is Science Today. For the first time, researchers at UCLA were able to detect head and neck cancer by looking at saliva a finding that may soon lead to new, non-invasive diagnostic and detection tools. Dr. David Wong, director of UCLA's School of Dentistry and a cancer researcher, says like blood, saliva is a good diagnostic fluid, but the informative molecules in spittle are present at lower levels than in blood.

Wong: The methodology didn't exist until five years ago, where engineering colleagues here at UCLA and elsewhere came out with these really creative nanotechnology-based biosensors that can practically detect anything at any level in any medium.

Narrator: Wong and his colleagues were able to differentiate between healthy patients and those with head and neck cancer by detecting particular RNA biomarkers in the saliva.

Wong: Our goal at UCLA is, by year 2007, to identify ten high impact, systemic diseases that reflects itself diagnostically in saliva.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.