In a discovery that may help the early identification of oral cancer, researchers in Brazil have found a correlation between one type of oral cancer’s progression and the abundance of specific proteins in tumour tissue and saliva. The discovery may assist in predicting the progression of the disease and may help in overcoming the limitations of clinical and imaging exams.
Researchers mapped the proteins in mouth cancer tissue and correlated them with the clinical characteristics of patients. This analysis enabled the identification of several proteins and linked them to key clinical outcomes.
After identifying and quantifying proteins in about 120 tissue samples, the second phase of the study saw researchers deploy two protein verification strategies.
Researcher at the Brazilian National Bioscience Laboratory and contributing author Adriana Franco Paes Leme said: “One strategy consisted of gauging the abundance of the selected proteins in independent tissue samples using immunohistochemistry with antibodies. The other consisted of monitoring the same preselected targets in patients’ saliva”.
After analysing the saliva samples, researchers used bio-informatics and machine learning techniques to obtain prognostic signatures. They were able to verify which proteins or peptides were selected during the first phase and could thereby distinguish between patients who had or did not have cervical lymph node metastasis.
It was possible to identify three specific peptides that can be used as a signature to classify patients with and without cervical lymph node metastasis.
Scientists are working on another study designed to build biosensors that can detect prognostic signatures in saliva.