The researchers began by examining the composition of fluid from gums called gingival crevicular fluid (GCF), which led to the development of several measurement methodologies and assays, enabling exploration of disease mechanisms and novel therapies.
Development of early diagnostic tests and treatment outcome measures required the establishment of highly sensitive assays capable of detecting miniscule levels of biomarkers in large volumes GCF. Several tests for GCF analysis were developed and applied to the study of disease processes. The biomarkers for GCF were shown to be a valid indicator of gum and periodontal health and have been adopted for clinical trials of new oral healthcare products.
The research group also looked at analysis of saliva as a diagnostic fluid using novel methods of saliva collection and delivery to analytical devices. Using saliva chemistry, we developed a test for nicotine using patented technology and demonstrated its efficacy in smoking cessation in a randomised controlled trial in primary dental care practice, where it led to 23% quit rates versus 7% for standard smoking cessation programs.
Given recent evidence that periodontitis is a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the group have gone on to develop methods to identify new biomarkers of RA in saliva proteins and are working with Philips on further exploitation.