Publish Date: 
Monday, May 10, 2021 - 14:00

FDA approves new saliva oral and throat cancer diagnostic test

US-based biotech company Viome is commercialising an early detection liquid biopsy for oral and throat cancer, based on research by QUT’s TRI-affiliated scientist, Associate Professor Chamindie Punyadeera.

Viome’s early detection device has been designated a Breakthrough Device by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US.

A/Prof Punyadeera has spent a decade researching the possibility of saliva being the optimum diagnostic liquid for the early detection of oral and throat cancer.

Her research in the field, driven by the death of her young brother-in-law within six months of being diagnosed with oral cancer.

The scientist provided the foundations for the commercialisation of the new device systematic through her collection of saliva samples from oral and throat cancer patients, establishment of saliva collection and optimisation protocols, identification of a key unmet-clinical need and work with clinicians.

According to A/Prof Punyadeera, the risk of oral cancer increased with age and increased more rapidly after the age of 50.

“This test could save many lives because until now early-stage oral cancer has been hard to detect because effective diagnostic tools have not been available,” she says.

“This has led to late diagnosis, a poor prognosis and low survival rates.”

The QUT research team comprised Professor Punyadeera, her PhD students and postdoctoral research fellows.

A preprint of Professor Punyadeera’s latest research, “The salivary metatranscriptome as an accurate diagnostic indicator of oral cancer”, is available here. The article was accepted for publication in npj Genomic Medicine from Nature Research.

This story was first published by QUT. Photo thanks to QUT.