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Molecular Mechanisms and Biomarkers

Biomarkers are objective biological indicators that signal a changed physiological state due to disease or a therapeutic intervention. Biomarkers act as surrogate indicators of disease, proof-of concept/hypothesis validation and are used to understand drug mechanisms of action.

Salivary biomarkers have the potential to access the state, the resolution and evolution of multiple dimensions of health such as well-being, cognitive function, chronic disease, nutrition and oral status. Salivary biomarkers can be applied from early diagnosis throughout disease progression and therapeutic intervention monitoring.

Our strategy consists in using as a first step in silico analysis, making use of the SalivaTecDB and bioinformatic tools to select potential molecular biomarkers. After that saliva samples collected from a target population are submitted to quality control in order to verify the integrity of the protein profile using capillary electrophoresis. It is then possible to identify groups of individuals by using our bioinformatics tools for individual stratification. We also analyze the microbiome, taking different measures such as total microbial load and the Firmicutes / Bacteroidetes which are indicators of the individual's health status.

Some examples of cytokines evaluated by SalivaTec.

Since saliva is a fluid which enables a non invasive, painless collection, it has been proposed as optimal for large epidemiological studies (it is easier to get volunteers) and for studies where collection stress might be a confounding factor. At SalivaTec we have been using saliva to monitor inflammatory status of individuals subject to psychotherapeutic interventions as well as senior citizens participating in a community exercise program.

Non-Invasive Inflammation Monitoring

Inflammatory salivary biomarkers


Molecular Cognition

SalivaTec has been collaborating with researchers in the evaluation of salivary markers of well-being and cognition traits and states by using neuropeptides and other salivary molecules related to these phenotypes. This collaboration has led to development of a molecular cognition strategy, which is already being used both in the characterization of healthy cognition and in the study of neurodevelopmental disorders (namely Autism Spectrum Disorder-ASD).

Projects

“Molecular insight into Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” coordinated by UCP was approved by Consortium Coordinated Research Infrastructures Building Enduring Life (Corbel).

Our partners in this project will be the Biomedical Research Foundation Academy of Athens, the group of Systems Bioinformatics from Vrije University of Amsterdam and the Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine.

Access Track 1 - Genotype-to-phenotype analysis project accepted.

"Molecular insight into Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” project coordinated by Universidade Católica Portuguesa was approved by Coordinated Research Infrastructures Building Enduring Life (Corbel) consortium.