Health Team

Study finds new applications for DNA in saliva

Posted June 24, 2011 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2011 6:16 p.m. EDT

DNA testing at the state lab has significantly advanced in recent years.

— A new discovery about DNA in saliva might lead to new medical applications.

Scientists at the University of California in Los Angeles have discovered a new way to estimate a person's age using saliva.

In a three-year study, researchers examined the saliva samples of 128 people and found that chemical changes to the DNA in the saliva can accurately tell how old a person is.

"What we were able to do is actually predict the age of a person within about five years of error without knowing the person," said Dr. Eric Vilain, a doctor and researcher at the UCLA Medical Center.

Scientists hope that crime scene investigators will one day be able to put the findings to good use. Traces of saliva left behind on a coffee cup, for example, could help narrow the age of a suspect

Experts also hope to use the research for treating the aging process by being able to calculate a person's DNA age, which would help doctors determine if a patient's body is aging faster or slower.

Scientists are now testing hair and blood samples to see if they get the same results.