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Forsyth Lands $4.1M to Create Salivary Dx Research Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Forsyth Institute plans to use a $4.1 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) to create a new center that will develop saliva-based molecular diagnostic tests for assessing disease risk.

Forsyth and MLSC said today that the institute will use the capital grant to fund construction of the Forsyth Center for Salivary Diagnostics (FCSD), to be located alongside the institute's current home in Cambridge, and to purchase equipment. The center will use Forsyth's expertise in oral medicine to develop and commercialize saliva-based diagnostics that are easier to use, more versatile, and more patient-friendly than tests based on blood, urine, and other fluids.

Salivary diagnostics are non-invasive and painless, they do not require specialized personnel, may be used quickly and in remote populations, are ideal for testing children and elderly people, and are highly compatible with point-of-care and over-the-counter tests, Forsyth said.

For these reasons, and because saliva contains DNA, proteins, hormones, and other sources of diagnostic information as blood, Forsyth believes that salivary tests will "revolutionize the way disease testing is performed."

"In simplistic terms, saliva can be considered a dilute solution of blood. Everything found in blood can be found in saliva," Max Goodson, a senior member of the Forsyth staff, said in a statement. "Salivary diagnostic tests have been a languishing vision that now can become a reality, primarily due to the availability of sensitive and specific measurement systems made available through this MLSC capital grant."

Forsyth plans to use some of the funding to buy mass spectrometry systems and other tools for the new lab, including at least one machine with high-throughput screening capacity, Jennifer Kelly, Forsyth's associate VP of marketing and external affairs, told GenomeWeb Daily News today.

The FCSD initially will develop diagnostic tests for biomarkers that are associated with common diseases that are under-diagnosed, including metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV, and active periodontitis, which is a "silent contributor" to other chronic diseases, according to Forsyth.

The center also will develop an inflammatory profile test, including markers that indicate risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases.

Kelly said that the center plans to develop both lab-based and over-the-counter tests.