Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

10 minute cancer test on the horizon

10 minute cancer test on the horizon

Australian scientists have recently unveiled that they have developed a simple 10-minute blood test that can diagnose cancer anywhere in the human body.

This has the potential to be used as an early cancer detection test, what is often called a liquid biopsy, and if the research pans out, could open up new pathways for universal cancer treatments.

In its current form, the test would be less applicable as a screening test, given that it can not detect types of cancer, Ohm told Live Science. He said that they initially believed that each cancer would need a separate test for detection.

"This unique nano-scaled DNA signature appeared in every type of breast cancer we examined, and in other forms of cancer including prostate, colorectal and lymphoma", said researcher Dr Abu Sina.

Relatively affordable and simple testing was made possible due to the team's discovery of cancer DNA and normal DNA sticking to metal surfaces in very different ways, allowing development of a test which can distinguish between healthy cells and those that are cancerous, even from tiny traces of DNA that find their way into the bloodstream.

"The test is sensitive enough to detect very low levels of cancer DNA in the sample", Carrascosa said.

And so, Sina and colleagues compared the epigenetic patterns on the genomes of cancer cells to those of healthy cells, specifically focusing on patterns of methyl groups. They work like volume controls by silencing genes that are not needed and instigating those which are.

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Have the affected cells this mechanism is disturbed, included only those genes that help the disease to develop.

The team noticed that in cancer cells, methyl groups were clustered at certain positions on the genome - a stark contrast to healthy cells where the groups are dispersed throughout.

The portable, cheap test could help detect cancer far sooner than current methods, according to the authors of the study in the December 4 issue of Nature Communications. They then showed that the patterns had a dramatic impact on the DNA's chemistry, making normal and cancer DNA behave very differently in water.

After a bunch of experiments, the expert hit on the new test for cancer. The suspect DNA is added to water containing tiny gold nanoparticles. The gold particles change color depending on whether or not cancer DNA is present.

For the test to produce accurate results, the DNA must be pure.

Professor Matt Trau, revealed that finding that cancerous DNA molecule formed an entirely different 3D nanostructures from normal circulating DNA was a ground-breaking invention that could now entirely form a new non-invasive cancer diagnosis approach that can be used in any tissues including blood cells.

"We certainly don't know yet whether it's the holy grail for all cancer diagnostics, but it looks really interesting", he concluded.

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