Non-invasive screening tests for preventive healthcare

Saliva – the first line of defense of our immune system

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Saliva has an important role in the human body. It keeps our digestive system working efficiently by adding important ingredients to the food or drinks we enjoy, while at the same time also helping our body fight against pathogens we are exposed to everyday. 

We tend to think that saliva’s main and only role is to aid in swallowing and to add enzymes and other important compounds to make our digestive system to work properly. However, saliva also has an important role in our immune system as the ‘first line of defence’. When our bodies encounter pathogens, whether it be in food or drinks, or even as aerosols in the air, saliva is our body’s first protective barrier. Even though it consists of over 90% of water, there are several  compounds, including antibacterial compounds, which help our body fight against pathogens. 


At Aqsens Health we have researched saliva quite extensively, and studied saliva’s immunological reactions in connection with oral health, as well as changes in mucus in relation to lesions and malign changes. Our main focus has been on the detection of oral cancer from saliva in cooperation with the Public Health Foundation of India. Through several confirming tests, we have discovered that not only does saliva carry biomarkers for oral cancer, but it also acts exceptionally quickly on external pathogens. The kinetic graph on the right demonstrates the individual differences in the effectiveness of saliva as the first line of defence against pathogens. 


Communicable diseases are currently a very topical issue due to the challenges the whole world has had to face because of Covid-19. The lethal SARS CoV 2 virus has developed into a form that can be transmitted from human-to-human before the existing PCR and antibody testing methods can even detect the infection. So, maybe this is the right time for the medical industry to start thinking about developing tests that focus on the quickest and first reaction of the human immune system when it encounters a pathogen – changes in our saliva. 


Janne Kulpakko
Chief Scientific Officer
Aqsens Health Oy