Collaboration aims to detect oral cavity cancer from saliva

Jerusalem-based startup Salignostics, which develops and provides rapid tests based on saliva samples, has signed a cooperation agreement with ARC Innovation - the innovation arm of Sheba Medical Center. The agreement aims to develop a test for detecting oral cavity cancer based on saliva samples.

Salignostics has recently announced the Israeli launch of Salistick, the world's first saliva-based pregnancy test.

Orophryngeal cancer is diagnosed in over 400,000 people worldwide every year, with an estimated average five-year survival rate of only 50% after diagnosis. The critical issue with this type of cancer is the lack of an effective medical diagnostic tool capable of detecting the disease in its early stages. It is usually discovered only after it has already spread, through physical examination of the oral cavity by a doctor and tissue biopsy. The test being developed by Salignostics and Sheba will be one of the first in the world for early detection of oral cavity cancer and among the first to diagnose any cancer type based on a saliva sample.

The cooperation and research and development process are led at Sheba by the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Institute under Dr Alex Dobrian; Ear, Nose and Throat Department under Dr Eran Alon; the Institute of Pathology under Professor Iris Barshak, accompanied by Professor Gidi Rechavi, director of the Sheba Cancer Research Center.

Oral cavity cancer was chosen as the first target for developing a saliva test because saliva comes into direct contact with infected tissues, increasing the chance of finding disease markers. Such identification may locate a significant portion of tumours at an early stage. After the proof-of-concept phase, the group will examine developing solutions for additional cancer groups, starting with head and neck cancer, then other types.

At the core of this research and development collaboration is the Salignostics platform for saliva processing. The platform was developed based on scientific studies through which several rapid tests for detecting pregnancy, COVID-19, and more have already been developed and marketed for home users.

Avner Halperin, CEO of Sheba Impact and Deputy Director of ARC Innovation, said: "This agreement is an outstanding example of the ARC ecosystem driving the development of a potentially lifesaving, breakthrough product.  This development will be accelerated by the combination of the highly innovative and effective innovation team at Salignostics with the expert clinicians at Sheba and the market expertise available through ARC's network of 150 global partners. This is just a first step in long term multi-product partnership opportunity."


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