UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Science


Saliva to Predict rIsk of disease using Transcriptomics and epigenetics (SPIT)

A study to help to create a cheap, portable and quick bedside test that uses patients’ saliva to predict their risk of disease.

SPIT logo


In the UK, there are numerous lifestyle-altering diseases (such as oesophageal and colorectal cancer) for which patients undergo multiple invasive tests before they can be properly diagnosed. In addition, patients with long term gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are at increased risk of gastrointestinal cancers and undergo regular surveillance tests. These tests are often uncomfortable and inconvenient for patients, in addition to being very costly for the NHS. The aim of this study is to analyse symptoms, risk factors and genetic changes detected in saliva samples to predict patients’ risk of developing diseases.

What does the study involve?

Participants complete a questionnaire to obtain information about their symptoms and risk factors for the disease. Saliva, blood samples and tissue samples are collected. Genetic analysis is performed on these samples to see if the characteristics of the patients’ saliva in combination with symptoms and other risk factors can accurately predict their disease.

What is the aim?

The results may help to create a cheap, portable and quick bedside test that uses patients’ saliva to predict their risk of disease, so that low risk patients can be saved from expensive, invasive, and unpleasant examination. Only high-risk patients will in future need to undergo invasive investigations so that they can be treated early if needed and avoid getting the disease at all. This could also save the NHS millions of pounds in the future.


University College London


1. Rosetrees Trust (UK)
2. CORE Digestive Disorders Foundation (UK)

Ethical Approval:

Coventry and Warwickshire Regional Ethics Committee (17/WM/0079)

Collaborating Hospital Sites

1. University College Hospital, London
2. Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals, London
3. Lister Hospital, Stevenage
4. Frimley Park Hospital, Frimley
5. Wexham Park Hospital, Slough
6. Worthing and St Richard’s Hospitals, Western Sussex
7. Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow
8. Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, Wigan
9. Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford
10. Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust
11. Russell’s Hall Hospital, Dudley
12. Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust
13. Medway NHS Foundation Trust
14. Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
15. Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
16. University Hospitals Of Leicester NHS Trust
17. London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
18. Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust
19. County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
20. Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

SPIT Study Team:

Chief Investigator – Prof Laurence Lovat
Clinical Trials Coordinator – Aine Hogan
Research Fellow - Dr Alex Ho


Email – dsis.spit@ucl.ac.uk
Telephone – 020 3108 7859

Related publications:

Rosenfeld A, Graham DG, Jevons S, et al. Development and validation of a risk prediction model to diagnose Barrett's oesophagus (MARK-BE): a case-control machine learning approach. Lancet Digit Health. 2020 Jan 1;2(1):E37-E48. doi: 10.1016/S2589-7500(19)30216-X.

Related conference presentations:

Ho A, Wolfson P, Wilson A, et al. P28 Comparison of anxiety and depression scores between 2-week wait and Barrett’s surveillance endoscopy referrals Gut 2021;70:A56. Presented at BSG Campus 2021