Thursday, March 28, 2024

Possible New Oral Cancer Detection...

Did you know when you have your routine dental examination, your dentist examines your gums, and teeth and also checks for oral cancer?

Typically your dentist will check the inside of your mouth for any mouth sores and palpate the tissue inside the mouth checking for any lumps. Some dentists may even go a step further and check the throat and neck.

However, in the future, there may be a new way to diagnose oral cancer. 

In an article by Dr. Bicuspids Melissa Busch, the University of Birmingham in the U.K. is in the works of developing a lollipop that could aid in diagnosing oral cancer! See the full article below.

"Instead of getting a lollipop for good behavior at a dental appointment, clinicians may hand them out and ask for patients to hand them back so they can be tested for mouth cancer, according to the University of Birmingham in the U.K.

The school will use a smart hydrogel to develop a prototype flavored lollipop that could aid in diagnosing mouth cancer. Cancer Research UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have awarded a three-year 350,000-pound grant ($442,347 U.S.) to fund the research, according to a university press release dated March 21.

"This project is an exciting first step towards an entirely new way to identify mouth cancers earlier," Dr. Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, said in the press release.

Currently, a mouth cancer diagnosis requires biopsies and nasoendoscopies. However, the procedure is invasive, time-consuming, and requires an endoscopist. In addition to these factors, these tests are unpleasant for patients.

A hydrogel functions like fishing nets. It absorbs lots of water while catching larger molecules like proteins and the "net" can be opened, releasing larger molecules for analysis.

Therefore, to test for cancer, a patient would suck on a lollipop, transferring their saliva to the hydrogel. The proteins caught in the hydrogel lollipop can be blasted with a ultraviolet light, and the liquid can be analyzed for saliva proteins that are indicators of the early stages of mouth cancer, according to the release.

"We're hoping that we can be the first to make a device which is much kinder for diagnosing mouth cancer for patients," Dr.  Ruchi Gupta, associate professor of biosensors at the university, said in the press release."

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