Unfortunately, cancers that occur in the back of the mouth and upper throat are often not diagnosed until they become advanced, partly because their location makes them difficult to see during routine clinical exams. A report in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, published by Elsevier, describes the use of acoustofluidics, a new non-invasive method that analyzes saliva for the presence of human papilloma virus (HPV)-16, the pathogenic strain associated with oropharyngeal cancers (OPCs). This novel technique detected OPC in whole saliva in 40 percent of patients tested and 80 percent of confirmed OPC patients.
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The study was an international collaboration between Duke University, UCLA and University of Birmingham (UK).
Exosomes are tiny microvesicles originating within cells that are secreted into body fluids. They are believed to play a role in intercellular communication and their numbers are elevated in association with several types of cancers. Acoustofluidics is an advanced technology that fuses acoustics and microfluidics. Fluid samples are analyzed using a tiny acoustofluidic chip developed to isolate salivary exosomes by removing unwanted particles based on size, leaving exosome-rich concentrated samples that make it easier to detect tumor-specific biomarkers.
In this study investigators analyzed saliva samples from 10 patients diagnosed with HPV-OPC using traditional methods. They found that the technique identified the tumor biomarker HPV-16 DNA in 80 percent of the cases when coupled with droplet digit PCR. Since this method is independent of sample variability that arises due to changes in saliva viscosity and collection methods used, it may prove ideal for use in clinical settings.
- Automated and fast exosome isolation; < 5 minutes
- Analyses can be performed at relatively low cost and at points of care
- Suitable for repeated and continuous monitoring of tumor progression and treatment
- Can also be used to analyze other biofluids such as blood, urine and plasma
“With these features, the acoustofluidic technology has the potential to significantly exceed current industry standards, address unmet needs in the field, help expedite exosome-related biomedical research, and aid in the discovery of new exosomal biomarkers.” – Tony Jun Huang, PhD, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Duke University
“The saliva exosome liquid biopsy is an effective early detection and risk assessment approach for OPC.” … “The acoustofluidic separation technique provides a fast, biocompatible, high-yield, high-purity, label-free method for exosome isolation from saliva.” – David T.W. Wong, DMD, DMSc, co-lead investigator, Center for Oral/Head and Neck Oncology Research, School of Dentistry at the University of California Los Angeles
“The results are a testament to the power of interdisciplinary research and international collaboration.” – Prof Hisham Mehanna, Director of the Institute of Head and Neck Studies and Education, University of Birmingham