Research is on worldwide to see if saliva can be used as a biomarker for various types of cancers, Maria Fidela de Lima, president, International Association for Dental Research, has said.

Speaking at the inaugural of the 23rd Annual National Conference of the Indian Society of Dental Research at Chettinad Health City here, she said the research was in the trial stage, and work was on in different parts of the world simultaneously.

If successful, this research work would establish the parameters to directly predict serious illness, including cancer, anywhere in the body, not just oral cancer.

In fact, industry-academia collaborations had already been set up to participate in the research, she added.

Urging dentists to apply for research grants from the IADR, she explained that grants of up to $75,000 were available for researchers from developing nations. However, not a single application had come in from India. Unless the government and free enterprise came together to promote research, no country could make progress, Dr. Fidela added.

Iqbal Singh, Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, said India accounted for only 1.66 per cent of the total number of research publications.

It is important that with more than 260 dental colleges, a workforce of over 11,000 teaching faculty and an intake of more than 1800 post graduate students per year, India has the potential to do much more in dental research and increase its share.

Studies have indicated that dentists believe that poor documentation, record maintenance and poor inter-departmental co-ordination as major hurdles to bring out research publications.

Steps have to be taken to overcome these barriers in order for the country to be a leading player in dental research, Mr. Singh said.

S.M. Balaji, secretary general, Indian Society for Dental Research, an affiliate of IADR and conference organiser, presented the annual report.

P. Rajesh, organising chairman and principal, Chettinad Dental College and Research Institute, and T.R. Gururaja Rao, president, ISDR, spoke.