Burn injuries are extremely traumatic, impacting both physical and psychological wellbeing. Currently, procedures for monitoring the healing process are subjective, and they rely on the expertise level of clinicians. Particularly for children, it is important to have objective, simple methods for monitoring healing. The identification and measurement of biomarkers present in biological fluids have the potential to allow clinicians to diagnose and monitor the healing progression of patients in a quantitative manner. Saliva is a non-invasive bio-fluid that has been underutilised in biomarker research. Therefore, the focus of this research is to identify salivary markers in paediatric burns patients that could be used to monitor both physical and psychological healing progression.
Advanced proteomic methods, such as Sequential Window Acquisition of All Theoretical Mass Spectra (SWATH-MS), will be used to detect and quantify protein abundances in saliva collected from children with burns 6-11 days post-burn. These protein abundances will be correlated with psychological measurements and wound healing data from the patient, and subsequently compared to protein profiles of healthy, non-traumatised children recruited from a community setting who have not been exposed to burns.
This research will enable the identification of a panel of proteins that could be indicative of physical healing status and/or psychological wellbeing state of children with burns. Most importantly, the information identified through this research could lead to better understanding of the biological mechanisms related to healing and the trauma response which may allow the diagnostic utilisation of saliva in burns care and treatment.