New Inexpensive Test Can Detect Cancer Within 10 Minutes

Blood sample with DNA illustration

Illustration of a blood sample containing a strand of DNA

"We find that DNA polymeric behavior is strongly affected by differential patterning of methylcytosine, leading to fundamental differences in DNA solvation and DNA-gold affinity between cancerous and normal genomes".

Explaining in the journal article, the Queensland team said their tests confirmed the above described behavioral pattern of methyl groups in breast, prostate, colorectal cancer as well as lymphoma.

Researchers have devised a test that can quickly and cheaply identify any type of cancer from any type of tissue, be that blood or a biopsy sample.

Dino Di Carlo, director of cancer nanotechnology at UCLA, told USA Today that the Australian research required further confirmation. It is also responsible for turning genes on and off.

Methylation are marks that indicate whether pieces of DNA should be read, Di Carlo said.

It is based on a process known as epigenetics - the attachment of a chemical tag known as a methyl group to DNA. This modification prevents certain genes from being expressed.

A universal cancer test would not be precise enough to detect tumour location or size, but it enables doctors to give a yes or no answer.

It turns out these structures stick to gold, so when cancerous DNA is put into a solution with gold nanoparticles, it attaches to them and instantly changes the colour of solution. Mr Eccles of Otago University suggested thinking of DNA as beads on a string when visualising how the test works.

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The researchers believe the test is promising, but, unfortunately, it can be used on carefully selected and characterized samples in order to judge its potential usefulness as a diagnostic test.

These gold nanoparticles play an important part in cancer detection.

Scientists worldwide have been working on ways to identify cancer earlier, as early detection is known to increase the success rate of therapeutic treatment and surgery.

But Dr. Nissenblatt says that the test could still prove to be useful.

"It seems to be a general feature for all cancer". But she added that the study was "very proof of principle at this point".

Scientists from the University of Queensland have developed a universal cancer test that can for 10 minutes to detect traces of the disease in the patient's blood.

A blood test could help to diagnose cancer within just ten minutes. The accuracy is about 90%, so specialists could detect cancer in 90 out of 100 cases.

"We certainly don't know yet whether it's the Holy Grail or not for all cancer diagnostics", Trau stated, "but it looks really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker of cancer, and as a very accessible and cheap technology that does not require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing".

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