The assessment of oral cancer risk using a chair-side tool for salivary aldehyde production

Project Details

The changing epidemiology of oral cancer has resulted in an urgent need for the assessment of oral cancer risk of factors not associated with smoking. It is now necessary to clarify the role of orally metabolized alcohol in oral carcinogenesis. Currently, there is no simple method for assessing an individual’s potential risk of developing oral cancer related to oral alcohol metabolism.
The development of convenient, fast and inexpensive analytical methods for on-site determination of AA is expected to simplify this analysis, substantially decrease its cost and make it widely available for diagnostic purposes. The microfluidic paper-based device (µPAD) described in this project proposal offers that facility. µPADs have been developed as a viable, inexpensive alternative to Lab-on-a-Chip and micro Total Analysis Systems (µ-TAS) and most research in this area has emphasised diagnostic and healthcare applications. In a paper-based device, the cellulose fibres form a hydrophilic pathway for liquid transport using only capillary action without the need for any other driving force. This hydrophilic pathway is defined by patterning the paper with a hydrophobic agent, and the resulting hydrophilic zones or channels provide the means for transport of reagent and sample solutions to the detection zone, which may entail chemical reaction en route.
The aims of the current study is to demonstrate that our rapid acetaldehyde saliva test can reproducibly and quantitatively measure salivary acetaldehyde in the clinical setting, and further demonstrate a link between high-level oral acetaldehyde production and oral cancer, by comparing salivary acetaldehyde levels in cancer and non-cancer patients.  Secondly, to test the ability of the combined Oral Cancer Risk Test (OCRT) to detect patients with oral cancer and those at high risk in a diverse population of dental patients in a dental practice setting. Finally this study aims to isolate Candida yeasts from oral cancer patients and control oral cancer-free subjects and to compare the oral carriage of this yeast in both patients groups.


Prof Michael McCullough, Head of Oral Medicine, Melbourne Dental School, The University of Melbourne

Dr Ali Alnuaimi, PhD. Post -doctoral Research Fellow, Melbourne Dental School, The University of Melbourne

A/Prof David Wiesenfeld, Director of Head and Neck Tumour Stream, Dept of Surgery RMH

Dr Chris Angel, Department of Pathology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre


Melbourne Dental School


Australian Dental Research Foundation

Research Group

Honorary Appointments’ Research Projects

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Cancer in Medicine

Key Contact

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Department / Centre


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