Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry have created a diagnostic test kit that can detect oral cancer early with a brush biopsy that can be done in a dental office, according to an article published by the university on January 17.
The kit employs a small brush to collect cells from potentially cancerous mouth lesions, analyzing them for genetic markers of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
The test, which uses epithelial cells, can identify a distinctive set of 40 microRNA sequences, enabling differentiation between a tumor and normal tissue with over 90% accuracy. Cell collection can be done in less than a minute without numbing or surgery, according to the story.
The diagnostic method, created and patented by Guy Adami and Dr. Joel Schwartz of the UIC College of Dentistry, is being funded by grants provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Currently, the researchers are seeking commercialization partnerships.
“We were the first to observe that brush biopsy samples actually work quite well when you use microRNA,” Adami said. “All you need is a good light and the brushes.”