The saliva samples we collected from you are an excellent source of DNA, used for many of our research purposes (especially genetic analyses). We also collect blood samples, because they open up many important additional research possibilities.
The benefit of collecting blood samples, compared with saliva samples, is that it enables us to study a wider range of measures and potential biomarkers found in plasma, or certain micronutrients, such as vitamins. This information will provide insights into possible mechanisms for the development of cancer, and contribute to research working to improve early detection, diagnosis and monitoring of disease. Some of the technologies that will use these data are likely yet to be invented.
Blood samples also provide a second source of DNA, which is especially important for study of epigenetics (modifications to DNA that can manifest differently in different parts of the body). We can study whether, and in what ways, people’s genetic mechanisms operate differently in saliva and blood.
Finally, having different blood fractions available also makes the ABC Study data more valuable for researchers investigating other chronic diseases. Of the hundreds of research papers that have resulted from Cancer Council Victoria’s Health 2020 study, about 40% have been on topics other than cancer. We look forward to the ABC Study making a similar contribution to research.
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