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UCLA Dentistry receives $5 million to study extracellular RNA in saliva
Date:8/14/2013

Imagine having a sample of your saliva taken at the dentist's office, and then learning within minutes whether your risk for stomach cancer is higher than normal. That futuristic-sounding scenario may actually not be too far from reality.

The UCLA School of Dentistry received $5 million in funding from the National Institutes for Health to study biological markers in saliva to attempt to develop a tool for detecting stomach cancer. The study has the potential to create a new paradigm in the field of salivary diagnostics, and it could supply concrete evidence that saliva can be used in the detection of life-threatening diseases, including diabetes and cancers of the pancreas, breasts, ovaries and stomach.

The award comes from the NIH Common Fund, a program established to overcome obstacles in biomedical research that have hindered scientific discovery and its translation into improved human health. The funding awarded to the School of Dentistry comes from the Common Fund's Extracellular RNA Communication initiative, which has awarded leading research institutes around the world a total of $160 million to address the transformative potential of the emerging field of salivary diagnostics.

Leading UCLA's five-year project is Dr. David Wong, a pioneer in the field of salivary diagnostics, the dentistry school's associate dean of research, and the Felix and Mildred Yip Endowed Professor in Dentistry. His team will develop and definitively validate salivary extracellular ribonucleic acid (exRNA) biomarkers for stomach cancer detection.

Conventionally, RNA which translates genetic code from DNA to make protein was always believed to reside within cells. However, scientists have recently found that RNA is secreted into extracellular spaces, or spaces outside the cell. Researchers surmised that exRNA acts as an exocrine signal, a signal that travels by way of a duct, to alter the cell traits of target cells. This messaging s
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Contact: Brianna Deane
bdeane@dentistry.ucla.edu
310-206-0835
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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