Virtual Conference

Vijayalakshmi Ramshankar

Department of Preventive Oncology, Cancer Institute WIA, India

Title: Vimentin as a salivary biomarker for oral pre-cancers – Indian study


Oral squamous cell carcinoma OSCC is aggressive cancer with high morbidity and mortality rates, despite multimodality management. There are currently no clinically relevant molecular markers identifying patients at higher risk of recurrence and failure for OSCC. Most of the oral cancers are preceded by oral pre-cancerous lesions. OSCC has been contributing to cancer burden globally with 300,000 incident cases per year and moreover India is the Oral Cancer capital of the world. There is currently no molecular or even histopathological pathognomonic hallmark that can predict malignant transformation of potentially malignant disorders. The potentially malignant pre-malignant lesions at risk for transformation needs to be followed up closely for a very long time to identify the high risk cases for an early intervention. A biopsy with subsequent microscopic examination from the lesion tissue is necessary in identification of OPMD. Detection of expressed Vimentin in the precancerous lesions of the oral cavity especially in the epithelial-mesenchymal transitioned cells without resorting to histo-diagnosis and / or determining qualitatively or quantitatively of secreted Since tissue availability in oral cancers and pre-cancers involve invasive procedures as a biopsy, we wanted to evaluate if vimentin could be detected in saliva, as saliva can serve as a non-invasive medium for the early detection and also for disease monitoring. The concentration obtained in salivary ELISA for vimentin detection range from 2.33-3.34 ng/ml for healthy volunteer samples, for pre-cancer samples, the concentration ranges from 4.5-5.02 ng/ml and for cancer samples, the concentration ranges from 4.82-1903.9 ng/ml. The fold increase between healthy volunteer samples and pre-cancer samples were statistically significant. The differential expression was analyzed using SPSS software and observed to be statistically significant. The diagnostic potential of the underlying pathological implication could be detected by ROC curve analysis showing AUC =0.735 which had a high statistical significance (p?0.001). Vimentin in the saliva would be a game changer in rapid screening large number of potentially vulnerable population in low resource setting. 


The principal Investigator Dr R Vijayalakshmi has been working on the Oral Cancer for the past one decade and has published several papers. The current work is an offshoot of the preliminary data generated and published recently. She has generated a lot of genomics and proteomics data in oral cancer and aims to derive a point of care device for detection of oral precancer for the Indian Community using saliva as a non-invasive medium. She heads the Department of Preventive Oncology (Research) at Cancer Institute WIA, one of the premiere Cancer treatment centers of India. She has established the first molecular testing facility for cervical cancer screening using the HPV DNA test for India and this centralized facility caters to HPV DNA testing across the country. She has completed training in molecular prevention from NIH, USA and has postdoctoral experience in US and India. With a career spanning 25 years in molecular oncology, she has more than 70 published papers both in national and International journals and 4 book chapters to her credit. As an avid academic researcher, she has guided several students for doctoral work, including dentists.