Thursday, 17 January, 2019

New test can detect all types of cancer within minutes

Image 10 News First Image 10 News First
Johnnie Parks | 06 December, 2018, 18:58

Elin Gray, a senior cancer researcher at Edith Cowan University, said the research was exciting piece of work that offered "a lot of potential".

The test has 90 per cent sensitivity, which means that it would be able to trace cancerous elements in 90 out of 100 cases.

Researchers at the University of Queensland have developed a simple test to see if there are DNA changes in the cells from blood and biopsy tissue.

Researchers noted that the methyl groups are spread out across the genome in healthy cells, but were present only in particular places in the genome of individuals with cancer.

Healthy cells ensure they function properly by patterning their DNA with molecules called methyl groups.

The researchers explained that they developed the technology after observing that different chemical patterns on DNA altered its ability to interact with metals, such as gold. If DNA from cancer cells is then added, it sticks to the nanoparticles in such a way that the water retains its original colour.

The new method looks for differences in the genetic code of cancerous and healthy cells, the newspaper said.

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Chemistry Professor and research associate Matt Trau said, "We certainly don't know yet whether it's the holy grail for all cancer diagnostics, but it looks really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker for cancer, and as an accessible and affordable technology that doesn't require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing".

"So we were very excited about an easy way of catching these circulating free cancer DNA signatures in blood", he said.

The scientists are now working towards clinical trials with patients who have a broader range of cancer types than they have tested so far.

The test is offering new hope that all types of the disease can be spotted early when treatment is the most effective, the newspaper said. Indeed, this test is so convenient and affordable that in the not-too-distant future we could all be carrying around our own personal cancer detector - on our cell phones.

"Because cancer is an extremely complicated and variable disease, it has been hard to find a simple signature common to all cancers, yet distinct from healthy cells", Abu Sina, a researcher at the Institute, said in a statement. The test however can detect only the presence of the cancer and not the site of the cancer, stage of the cancer or the type of the cancer.

Tests in the lab showed that the scientists could distinguish normal DNA from cancer DNA by looking for a colour change in the gold particle solution that was visible to the naked eye within a few minutes. Additionally, the research was supported by a National Breast Cancer Foundation grant to advance cancer diagnosis testing.

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