A new clinically-validated saliva test has been shown to detect HPV-associated head and neck cancer with high accuracy.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis used the Naveris, Inc. test to analyze saliva for sequences of the human papilloma virus (HPV) genome that are specific for HPV DNA released from malignant tumors. The test successfully distinguishes this tumor-tissue modified virus from non-cancerous sources of HPV DNA and precisely measures the number of tumor-tissue modified viral HPV (TTMV-HPV) DNA strands present in a saliva sample.
The study results point to the potential for a significant improvement in early detection of the most common type of head and neck cancer, HPV-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.
“Naveris’ patient-friendly saliva test has the potential to radically advance early detection of HPV-positive head and neck cancer, which has been growing rapidly among men in the United States. Early detection of these cancers would make a dramatic difference in patient outcomes,” said Piyush Gupta, PhD, CEO of Naveris.
The study quantified participants’ tumor-tissue modified viral HPV DNA in saliva samples and compared it to the levels found in their blood by utilizing Naveris’ NavDx test. The results showed that TTMV-HPV DNA was commonly found in the saliva of HPV-associated head and neck cancer patients (44/46 cases), and at 18 times higher levels in the saliva samples than in the blood samples. One sample had undetectable TTMV-HPV and one was indeterminate for HPV DNA.
Washington University researchers presented an abstract of the study at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2021 annual meeting.
“The results of our study highlight the potential of accurately analyzing saliva to improve the early detection of HPV-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. If validated in larger studies, this test could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment,” said the study’s principal investigator Jose P. Zevallos, MD, chief of the division of Head and Neck Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University School of Medicine.
Naveris’ new saliva test is based upon the proprietary technology employed by the NavDx blood test that is in use at centers of excellence treating HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer across the United States. NavDx is a liquid biopsy test that detects HPV-associated head and neck cancer earlier than is possible with imaging and is provided exclusively in the United States through the Naveris national reference CAP-accredited laboratory.