Published: 10th October 2022
Team led by Ahmedabad University prof discovers alternative to invasive biopsies for oral cancer patients
The team discovered a novel miRNA in the patient's saliva that can substitute the recurrent invasive biopsies required to monitor the growth rate of the tumour
In a discovery that promises to provide an alternative to the invasive method of conventional biopsy in oral cancer patients, a team led by a professor from Ahmedabad University has discovered a novel miRNA in the patient's saliva that can help predict tumour aggressiveness.
Dr Vivek Tanavde, Associate Professor, of Biological and Life Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad University, led a team of researchers of the Oral Cancer Cluster at the Biological and Life Sciences division of the School of Arts and Sciences, Ahmedabad University and senior oncologists Dr Kaustubh Patel and Dr Dushyant Mandlik from the Department of Head and Neck Oncology, HCG Cancer Centre, Ahmedabad. The miRNA in the saliva, apart from predicting tumour aggressiveness also provides a better prognosis of oral cancer, reported IANS.
As per the research...
Monitoring the growth rate of cancerous tumours and the efficacy of treatment in oral cancer patients has conventionally required recurrent invasive biopsies. With this discovery, patients only need to spit a couple of times into a tube, as per the research, published in the Switzerland-based International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
In a chat with IANS, Dr Tanavde said that the treatment of oral cancer poses several challenges. "Patients don't consult a doctor until there is a visible patch which might be too late for therapy. If the tumour is surgically removed, one doesn't know if resistance has developed unless a follow-up is done, which typically happens only with visible signs of tumour growth and there is an invasive biopsy needed at every stage," he said.
"Our idea is to move towards non-invasive, definitive methods that would enable accurate monitoring of tumour response to therapy. At the same time, we would like to make this widely accessible and cost-effective," Dr Tanavde told IANS.
Elaborating on the process, he said that the team used commercially available kits to purify salivary exosomes. "Then, through a simple PCR, which is now available in the smallest of towns, we can measure the expression of miRNA-1307," said the professor.
Second largest cancer in India
Oral cancer is the second largest cancer in India, with lip/oral cavity cancers accounting for 10.3% of new cases and 8.8% of deaths, according to a report published by the International Agency for Research in Cancer, an intergovernmental agency part of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
One of the challenges that Dr Tanavde's team overcame was the isolation of good-quality TNA from saliva has hindered previous efforts to use saliva for liquid biopsy. The deployment of salivary exosomal miRNAs as biomarkers facilitated repeated sampling, real-time disease monitoring and assessment of therapeutic response. This study has identified a single salivary exosomal miRNA prognosticator that will aid in improved patient outcomes using a liquid biopsy approach, according to the IANS report.