Harvard Health Letter

In Brief: High expectations for expectorations

In Brief

High expectations for expectorations

Increasingly, new technologies are revealing important secrets in small amounts of body fluid such as blood or spinal fluid. But it takes needles, and some pain, to get that fluid.

Saliva, say some researchers, could be the raw material for easy, completely noninvasive testing for everything from viral infections to cancer.

There's already an FDA-approved saliva test for HIV on the market. Genzyme, a Cambridge, Mass., biotech company, is using saliva samples in its screening test for cystic fibrosis genes. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (part of the National Institutes of Health) has plowed $85 million into research of salivary diagnostics.

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