Research could lead to improvements in gene therapy and antiviral resistance medications while also possibly leading to a new class of clinical laboratory tests
Scientists at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) have discovered what may be the scariest virus of all—the Vampire Virus. It’s a term that may inspire “Walking Dead” level horror in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and though virologists and microbiologists might be tempted to dismiss them as imaginary, they are all too real. Even more apropos to the Dracula saga, the UM scientists found them in a soil sample. Yikes!
Happily, this ghoulish discovery could have positive implications for gene editing, gene therapy, and the development of new antiviral medications, according to The Conversation. In turn, these positive implications may eventually trigger the need to create new diagnostic tests that clinical laboratories can offer to physicians.
The image above, taken from a University of Maryland news release, shows the satellite virus “latched onto its helper virus.” Discovery of vampire-like viruses that attach at the “neck” of other viruses may lead to important discoveries in the development of gene editing and antiviral therapies. Might clinical laboratories one day collect samples for pharmaceutical developers engaged in combating antiviral drug resistance? (Photo copyright: University of Maryland.)
Spotting a Vampire Virus
According to IFLScience, these tiny vampire viruses were first discovered by undergraduates who believed they were looking at sample contamination when analyzing sequences of bacteriophages from environmental soil samples. But upon repeating the experiment they realized it was no mistake.
In the UMBC news release, bioinformatician Ivan Erill, PhD, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland, noted that “some viruses, called satellites, depend not only on their host organism to complete their life cycle, but also on another virus, known as a helper.
“The satellite virus needs the helper either to build its capsid, a protective shell that encloses the virus’ genetic material, or to help it replicate its DNA,” he added. “These viral relationships require the satellite and the helper to be in proximity to each other at least temporarily, but there were no known cases of a satellite actually attaching itself to a helper—until now.”
Although scientists have witnessed viruses working together before, this is the first known instance of a virus directly latching onto another virus’ capsid—rather like a vampire going for the neck.
“When I saw it, I was like, I can’t believe this,” said Tagide deCarvalho, PhD, Assistant Director of Natural and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Maryland and first author of the study, in a UM news release, “No one has ever seen a bacteriophage—or any other virus—attach to another virus.”
“Not everyone has a TEM at their disposal. [With the TEM] I’m able to follow up on some of these observations and validate them with imaging. There’s elements of discovery we can only make using the TEM,” said deCarvalho in the UMBC news release.
Using Vampire Viruses to Develop Better Gene Therapies
Spookily, the comparisons to Dracula and his parasitic brethren do not stop with their freeloading tendencies. The researchers found that some viruses without a satellite attached still showed signs of having been leeched onto before. Those viruses had the equivalent of “bite marks” showing evidence of encountering vampiric viruses in the past.
“It’s possible that a lot of the bacteriophages that people thought were contaminated were actually these satellite-helper systems,” said deCarvalho in the ISME paper.
But what does UMBC’s breakthrough mean for the greater scientific and medical community? Do we need to arm host viruses with silver crosses and necklaces of garlic? Jokes aside, this discovery could lead to further development in research of how to genetically alter viruses and deliver therapeutic elements into cells.
According to Healthline, some gene therapy or “gene editing” already involves the use of viruses. Scientists switch out the programming on a virus and trick it into healing, instead of harming the cells it infiltrates. Therefore, UMBC’s discovery could lead to new breakthroughs battling deadly viruses by using their own parasitic tricks to infiltrate other viruses.
Although groundbreaking and extremely interesting, the research is still in early stages. Any developments from this discovery aren’t likely to impact clinical laboratories any time soon. But after the past few years of battling the COVID-19 variants, this exciting discovery could help find new ways to prevent the next pandemic.
Biobattery might one day power clinical laboratory testing devices designed to function in vivo to measure and wirelessly report certain biomarkers
Clinical laboratories may one day regularly process biomarker data sent by ingested medical devices from inside the human body, such as the colon and intestines. But powering such devices remains a challenge for developers. Now, researchers at Binghamton University in New York have developed a biobattery that derives its power based on pH reactions when it comes in contact with acids inside the gut.
The battery uses “bacteria to create low levels of electricity that can power sensors and Wi-Fi connections as part of the Internet of Things,” according to a Binghamton University news release.
The biobattery uses microbial fuel cells with spore-forming bacteria for power and it remains inactive until it reaches the small intestine.
Ingestible devices, such as wireless micro cameras, are being utilized more frequently to investigate a myriad of activities that occur in vivo. But traditional batteries that power ingestible diagnostic gadgets can be potentially harmful and are less reliable.
In addition, the small intestine in humans is typically between 10 and 18 feet in length and it folds several times to fit the abdomen. Thus, the inside area can be very difficult to reach for diagnostic purposes.
“There are some regions in the small intestine that are not reachable, and that is why ingestible cameras have been developed to solve this issue,” said Seokheun “Sean” Choi, PhD (above), Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Binghamton University, in a news release. “They can do many things, such as imaging and physical sensing, even drug delivery. The problem is power. So far, the electronics are using primary batteries that have a finite energy budget and cannot function for the long term.” As these technologies develop, clinical laboratories may play a role in collecting biomarker data from these devices interpretation by physicians. (Photo copyright: Binghamton University/Jonathan Cohen.)
How Binghamton Researchers Developed Their Biobattery
The dime-sized fuel cell assembly is then sealed with a piece of Kapton tape, which can withstand temperatures from -500 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. When the tape is removed, moisture mixes with a chemical germinant that causes the bacteria to begin manufacturing spores.
The biobattery generates around 100 microwatts per square centimeter of power density, but it can take up to an hour to germinate completely. After one hour, the energy generated from the device can power an LED light, a small clock, or a digital hygrometer, as well as a micro camera for in vivo use.
“We wanted to make these bio-batteries for portable, storable, and on-demand power generation capabilities,” Choi said in the news release.
“The problem is, how can we provide the long-term storage of bacteria until used? And if that is possible, then how would you provide on-demand battery activation for rapid and easy power generation? And how would you improve the power?” Choi added.
Heating the fuel cell decreased the time it took to reach full power to 20 minutes, and increasing the humidity resulted in higher electrical output.
Potential for Long-term Power Storage
In addition, after a week of being stored at room temperature, the activated battery had only lost 2% of its power. The researchers also believe that the device could function properly in an inactivate state for up to 100 years, provided there is enough moisture to activate the bacteria after the Kapton tape is removed.
“The overall objective is to develop a microbial fuel cell that can be stored for a relatively long period without degradation of bio-catalytic activity, and also can be rapidly activated by absorbing moisture from the air,” said Choi in the news release.
More research and studies are needed to confirm the biobattery performs properly and is feasible for general use. This experimentation would require both animal and human testing, along with biocompatibility studies.
“I think this is a good start,” Choi added. “Hopefully, we can make a commercial product using these ideas.”
If the biobattery can power an ingestible medical device for a reasonable period of time, then this invention may be able to power a clinical laboratory testing device that could function in vivo to measure and wirelessly report certain biomarkers inside the body.
Spectroscopic technique was 91% accurate in identifying the notoriously difficult-to-diagnose disease suggesting a clinical diagnostic test for CFS may be possible
Most clinical pathologists know that, despite their best efforts, scientists have failed to come up with a reliable clinical laboratory blood test for diagnosing myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), the condition commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)—at least not one that’s ready for clinical use.
The approach uses a laser to identify unique cellular “fingerprints” associated with the disease, according to an Oxford news release.
“When Raman was added to a panel of potentially diagnostic outputs, we improved the ability of the model to identify the ME/CFS patients and controls,” Karl Morten, PhD, Director of Graduate Studies and Principal Investigator at Oxford University, told Advanced Science News. Morton led the research team along with Wei Huang, PhD, Professor of Biological Engineering at Oxford.
The researchers claim the test is 91% accurate in differentiating between healthy people, disease controls, and ME/CFS patients, and 84% accurate in differentiating between mild, moderate, and severe cases, the new release states.
“This could be a game changer as we are unsure what causes [ME/CFS] and diagnosis occurs perhaps 10 to 20 years after the condition has started to develop,” said Karl Morten, PhD, Director of Graduate Studies and Principal Investigator at Oxford University. “An early diagnosis might allow us to identify what is going wrong with the potential to fix it before the more long-term degenerative changes are observed.” Though this research may not lead to a simple clinical laboratory blood test for CFS, any non-invasive diagnostic test would enable doctors to help many people. (Photo copyright: Oxford University.)
Need for an ME/CFS Test
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes ME/CFS as “a serious, long-term illness that affects many body systems,” with symptoms that include severe fatigue and sleep difficulties. Citing an Institute of Medicine (IoM) report, the agency estimates that 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans suffer from the condition but notes that most cases have not been diagnosed.
“One of the difficulties is the complexity of the disease,” said Jonas Bergquist, MD, PhD, Director of the ME/CFS Research Center of Uppsala University in Sweden, told Advanced Science News. “Because it’s a multi-organ disorder, you get symptoms from many different regions of the body with different onsets, though it’s common with post viral syndrome to have different overlapping [symptoms] that disguise the diagnosis.” Bergquist was not involved with the Oxford study.
One key to the Oxford researchers’ technique is the use of multiple artificial intelligence models to analyze the spectral profiles. “These signatures are complex and by eye there are not necessarily clear features that separate ME/CFS patients from other groups,” Morten told Advanced Science News.
“The AI looks at this data and attempts to find features which can separate the groups,” he continued. “Different AI methods find different features in the data. Individually, each method is not that successful at assigning an unknown sample to the correct group. However, when we combine the different methods, we produce a model which can assign the subjects to the different groups very accurately.”
Without a reliable test, “diagnosis of the condition is difficult, with most patients relying on self-report, questionnaires, and subjective measures to receive a diagnosis,” the Oxford press release noted.
But developing such a test has been challenging, Advanced Science News noted.
How Oxford’s Raman Technique Works
Raman spectroscopy uses a laser to determine the “vibrational modes of molecules,” according to the Oxford press release.
“When a laser beam is directed at a cell, some of the scattered photons undergo frequency shifts due to energy exchanges with the cell’s molecular components,” the press release stated. “Raman micro-spectroscopy detects these shifted photons, providing a non-invasive method for single cell analysis. The resulting single cell Raman spectra serve as a unique fingerprint, revealing the intrinsic and biochemical properties and indicating the physiological and metabolic state of the cell.”
The researchers employed the technique on blood samples from 98 subjects, including 61 ME/CFS patients, 16 healthy controls, and 21 controls with multiple sclerosis (MS), Advanced Science reported.
The Oxford scientists focused their attention on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), as previous studies found that these cells showed “reduced energetic function” in ME/CFS patients. “With this evidence, the team proposed that single-cell analysis of PBMCs might reveal differences in the structure and morphology in ME/CFS patients compared to healthy controls and other disease groups such as multiple sclerosis,” the press release states.
Clinical Laboratory Blood Processing and the Oxford Raman Technique
Oxford’s Raman spectroscopic technique “only requires a small blood sample which could be developed as a point-of-care test perhaps from one drop of blood,” the researchers wrote. However, Advanced Science News pointed out that required laser microscopy equipment costs more than $250,000.
In their Advanced Science paper, the researchers note that the test could be made more widely available by transferring blood samples collected by local clinical laboratories to diagnostic centers that have the needed hardware.
“Alternatively, a compact system containing portable Raman instruments could be developed, which would be much cheaper than a standard Raman microscope, and [which] incorporated with microfluidic systems to stream cells through a Raman laser for detection, eliminating the need for lengthy blood sample processing,” the researchers wrote.
“Our paper is very much a starting point for future research,” Morten told Advanced Science News. “Larger cohorts need to be studied, and if Raman proves useful, we need to think carefully about how a test might be developed.”
Bergquist agreed, stating it’s “not necessarily something you would see in a doctor’s office. It requires a lot of advanced data analysis to use—I still see it as a research methodology. But in the long run, it could be developed into a tool that could be used in a more simplistic way.”
Though a useable diagnostic test may be far off, clinical laboratories should consider how they can aid in ME/CFS research.
Scientists believe the biodegradable device could someday help detect multiple saliva biomarkers. If true, it might provide a new type of test for clinical laboratories
When it comes to tongue depressors, it turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks. Researchers from National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Greece (NKUA) have taken this simple wooden medical tool and developed a high-tech biosensing device that may someday be useful at the point-of-care in hospitals and as a new type of test for clinical laboratories.
Using diode laser engraving, the researchers developed an “eco-friendly disposable sensor that can measure glucose levels and other biomarkers in saliva,” according to LabMedica.
This proof-of-principle biosensing device demonstrates the feasibility of “simultaneous determination of glucose and nitrite in artificial saliva,” according to the NKUA scientists who hope it will help doctors diagnose a variety of conditions.
In their published paper, the scientists at the University of Athens wrote that their wooden electrochemical biosensing tongue depressor (above) “is an easy-to-fabricate disposable point-of-care chip with a wide scope of applicability to other bioassays,” and that “it paves the way for the low-cost and straightforward production of wooden electrochemical platforms.” Might this and other similar biosensing devices eventually find their way to clinical laboratories for use in identifying and tracking certain biomarkers for disease? (Photo copyright: University of Athens.)
How to Make a High-Tech Tongue Depressor
Though wood is affordable and accessible, it doesn’t conduct electricity very well. The researchers’ first attempt to solve this problem was to use the wood as “a passive substrate” to which they coated “metals and carbon-based inks,” LabMedica reported. After that they tried using high-powered lasers to “char specific regions on the wood, turning those spots into conductive graphite.” But that process was complicated, expensive, and a fire hazard.
The researchers eventually turned to “low-power diode lasers” which have been used successfully “to make polyimide-based sensors but have not previously been applied to wooden electronics and electrochemical sensors,” LabMedica noted.
In their Analytical Chemistry paper, the researchers wrote, “A low-cost laser engraver, equipped with a low-power (0.5 W) diode laser, programmably irradiates the surface of the WTD [wooden tongue depressor], forming two mini electrochemical cells (e-cells). The two e-cells consist of four graphite electrodes: two working electrodes, a common counter, and a common reference electrode. The two e-cells are spatially separated via programmable pen-plotting, using a commercial hydrophobic marker pen.”
In other words, the researchers “used a portable, low-cost laser engraver to create a pattern of conductive graphite electrodes on a wooden tongue depressor, without the need for special conditions. Those electrodes formed two electrochemical cells separated by lines drawn with a water-repellent permanent marker,” states a press release from the American Chemical Society.
“The biosensor was then used to quickly and simultaneously measure nitrite and glucose concentrations in artificial saliva. Nitrite can indicate oral diseases like periodontitis, while glucose can serve as a diagnostic for diabetes. The researchers suggest that these low-cost devices could be adapted to detect other saliva biomarkers and could be easily and rapidly produced on-site at medical facilities,” LabMedica reported.
Benefits of Using Wood
One of the major benefits of using wood for their biosensing device is how environmentally friendly it is. “Since wood is a renewable, biodegradable naturally occurring material, the development of conductive patterns on wood substrates is a new and innovative chapter in sustainable electronics and sensors,” the researchers wrote in Analytical Chemistry.
Additionally, the tongue depressor features “An easy-to-fabricate disposable point-of-care chip with a wide scope of applicability to other bioassays, while it paves the way for the low-cost and straightforward production of wooden electrochemical platforms,” the researchers added.
This adds to a growing trend of developing bioassay products that keep the health of our planet in mind.
“This new BC test is non-toxic, naturally biodegradable and both inexpensive and scalable to mass production, currently costing less than $4.00 per test to produce. Its cellulose fibers do not require the chemicals used to manufacture paper, and the test is almost entirely biodegradable,” a UPenn blog post noted.
New Future Tool Use in Clinical Diagnostics
Who could have predicted that the lowly wooden tongue depressor would go high tech with technology that uses lasers to convert it to an electrochemical multiplex biosensing device for oral fluid analysis? This is yet another example of technologies cleverly applied to classic devices that enable them to deliver useful diagnostic information about patients.
And while a biosensing tongue depressor is certainly a diagnostic tool that may be useful for nurses and physicians in clinic and hospital settings, with further technology advancements, it could someday be used to collect specimens that measure more than glucose and nitrites.
Researchers at Stanford Medicine led the study which discovered that approximately one in five individuals carry the gene variant, a protective allele identified as DR4 (aka, HLA-DR4). It’s one of a large number of alleles found in a gene known as DRB1.
DRB1 is part of a family of genes collectively known as the human lymphocyte antigen complex or HLA. The HLA-DRB1 gene plays a crucial role in the ability of the immune system to see a cell’s inner contents.
“In an earlier study, we’d found that carrying the DR4 allele seemed to protect against Parkinson’s disease,” said Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD (above), Director of the Stanford Center for Narcolepsy, in a Stanford press release. “Now, we’ve found a similar impact of DR4 on Alzheimer’s disease.” Clinical laboratories may soon have new vaccines for both neurodegenerative diseases. (Photo copyright: Stanford University.)
DR4 Found to Impact Both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases
To perform their research, the team examined a large collection of medical and genetic databases from 176,000 people who had either Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. The people involved in the study were from numerous countries located in East Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America. Their genomes were then compared with people who did not have the diseases, focusing on the incidence and age of onset.
“In an earlier study we’d found that carrying the DR4 allele seemed to protect against Parkinson’s disease,” said Mignot in the Stanford press release. “Now, we’ve found a similar impact of DR4 on Alzheimer’s disease.”
The team found that about 20% to 30% of people carry DR4, and that they have around a 10% risk reduction for developing the two diseases.
“That this protective factor for Parkinson’s wound up having the same protective effect with respect to Alzheimer’s floored me,” said Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD, the Craig Reynolds Professor of Sleep Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and the Director of the Stanford Center for Narcolepsy, in the Stanford Medicine press release. “The night after we found that out, I couldn’t sleep.”
The scientists also analyzed data from autopsied brains of more than 7,000 Alzheimer’s patients and discovered that individuals who carry DR4 had fewer neurofibrillary tangles and that those tangles are composed mainly of modified tau proteins, a common biomarker for Alzheimer’s.
The presence of these tangles corresponds with the severity of Alzheimer’s disease. They are not typically seen in Parkinson’s patients, but the Stanford team found that Parkinson’s patients who did carry DR4 experienced later onset of symptoms.
Mignot stated that tau, which is essential in Alzheimer’s, may also play a role in Parkinson’s, but that further research is required to prove its function.
Both diseases are characterized by the progressive loss of certain nerve cells or neurons in the brain and are linked to an accumulation of abnormal proteins. The Stanford researchers suggested that the DR4 gene variant may help protect individuals from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by preventing the buildup of tau proteins.
“This is a very interesting study, providing additional evidence of the involvement of the immune system in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” neurologist Wassim Elyaman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurological Sciences in Neurology, the Taub Institute and the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University, told Live Science.
New Vaccines and Immunotherapies
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than six million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and approximately one in three Americans die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
The Parkinson’s Foundation states that nearly one million Americans are currently living with Parkinson’s disease, and that number is expected to rise to 1.2 million by 2030. Parkinson’s is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease.
Even though the genetic analysis of the Stanford research is strong, more immune cell and blood-based research is needed to definitively establish how tau is connected to the two diseases.
This research could have implications for clinical laboratories by giving them biomarkers for a useful new diagnostic test, particularly for diagnosing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Further, Mignot suggested that an effective vaccine could delay the onset or slow the progression of both diseases. He hopes to test his hypothesis on genetically modified mice and eventually human subjects.
Collected data could give healthcare providers and clinical laboratories a practical view of individuals’ oral microbiota and lead to new diagnostic assays
When people hear about microbiome research, they usually think of the study of gut bacteria which Dark Daily has covered extensively. However, this type of research is now expanding to include more microbiomes within the human body, including the oral microbiome—the microbiota living in the human mouth.
One example is coming from Genefitletics, a biotech company based in New Delhi, India. It recently launched ORAHYG, the first and only (they claim) at-home oral microbiome functional activity test available in Asia. The company is targeting the direct-to-consumer (DTC) testing market.
According to the Genefitletics website, the ORAHYG test can decode the root causes of:
“Using oral microbial gene expression sequencing technology and its [machine learning] model, [Genefitletics] recently debuted its oral microbiome gene expression solution, which bridges the gap between dentistry and systemic inflammation,” ETHealthworld reported.
“The molecular insights from this test would give an unprecedented view of functions of the oral microbiome, their interaction with gut microbiome and impact on metabolic, cardiovascular, cognitive, skin, and autoimmune health,” BioSpectrum noted.
“Microbes, the planet Earth’s original inhabitants, have coevolved with humanity, carry out vital biological tasks inside the body, and fundamentally alter how we think about nutrition, medicine, cleanliness, and the environment,” Sushant Kumar (above), founder and CEO of Genefitletics, told the Economic Times. “This has sparked additional research over the past few years into the impact of the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit the human body on our health and diverted tons of funding into the microbiome field.” Clinical laboratories may eventually see an interest and demand for testing of the oral microbiome. (Photo copyright: ETHealthworld.)
Imbalanced Oral Microbiome Can Trigger Disease
The term microbiome refers to the tiny microorganisms that reside on and inside our bodies. A high colonization of these microorganisms—including bacteria, fungi, yeast, viruses, and protozoa—live in our mouths.
“Mouth is the second largest and second most diverse colonized site for microbiome with 770 species comprising 100 billion microbes residing there,” said Sushant Kumar, founder and CEO of Genefitletics, BioSpectrum reported. “Each place inside the mouth right from tongue, throat, saliva, and upper surface of mouth have a distinctive and unique microbiome ecosystem. An imbalanced oral microbiome is said to trigger onset and progression of type 2 diabetes, arthritis, heart diseases, and even dementia.”
The direct-to-consumer ORAHYG test uses a saliva sample taken either by a healthcare professional or an individual at home. That sample is then sequenced through Genefitletics’ gene sequencing platform and the resulting biological data set added to an informatics algorithm.
Genefitletics’ machine-learning platform next converts that information into a pre-symptomatic molecular signature that can predict whether an individual will develop a certain disease. Genefitletics then provides that person with therapeutic and nutritional solutions that can suppress the molecules that are causing the disease.
“The current industrial healthcare system is really a symptom care [system] and adopts a pharmaceutical approach to just make the symptoms more bearable,” Kumar told the Economic Times. “The system cannot decode the root cause to determine what makes people develop diseases.”
Helping People Better Understand their Health
Founded in 2019, Genefitletics was created to pioneer breakthrough discoveries in microbial science to promote better health and increase longevity in humans. The company hopes to unravel the potential of the oral microbiome to help people fend off illness and gain insight into their health.
“Microorganisms … perform critical biological functions inside the body and transform our approach towards nutrition, medicine, hygiene and environment,” Kumar told CNBC. “It is important to understand that an individual does not develop a chronic disease overnight.
“It starts with chronic inflammation which triggers pro-inflammatory molecular indications. Unfortunately, these molecular signatures are completely invisible and cannot be measured using traditional clinical grade tests or diagnostic investigations,” he added. “These molecular signatures occur due to alteration in gene expression of gut, oral, or vaginal microbiome and/or human genome. We have developed algorithms that help us in understanding these alterations way before the clinical symptoms kick in.”
Genefitletics plans to utilize individuals’ collected oral microbiome data to determine their specific nutritional shortcomings, and to develop personalized supplements to help people avoid disease.
The company also produces DTC kits that analyze gut and vaginal microbiomes as well as a test that is used to evaluate an infant’s microbiome.
“The startup wants to develop comparable models to forecast conditions like autism, PCOS [polycystic ovarian syndrome], IBD [Inflammatory bowel disease], Parkinson’s, chronic renal [kidney] disease, anxiety, depression, and obesity,” the Economic Times reported.
Time will tell whether the oral microbiome tests offered by this company prove to be clinically useful. Certainly Genefitletics hopes its ORAHYG test can eventually provide healthcare providers—including clinical laboratory professionals—with a useful view of the oral microbiome. The collected data might also help individuals become aware of pre-symptomatic conditions that make it possible for them to seek confirmation of the disease and early treatment by medical professionals.