The UCLA researchers tested the optical protein sensor on 40 patients--20 healthy subjects and 20 individuals with oral cancer. The results proved 95 percent accurate, says Ho. The study was published online in the international journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
"The new sensor is a major step in salivary diagnostics, an area that is being looked at very carefully to see where it might be better to use saliva than blood," says Spencer Redding, chair of the department of dental diagnostic science at the University of Texas Health Science Center, in San Antonio, who is working with McDevitt. Other possible applications of such technology include detection of heart disease, infectious disease, and asthma, Redding says.