Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Groundbreaking 10- minute cancer test developed by scientists

Groundbreaking 10- minute cancer test developed by scientists

Australian researchers on Wednesday said they had developed a quick and easy test to detect cancer from blood or biopsy tissue, pointing to new approaches to patient diagnoses through simple devices like mobile phones. After a series of tests the team hit on the new test for cancer: suspected DNA is added to water containing tiny gold nanoparticles that turn the water pink; if cancer cell DNA is added it sticks to the nanoparticles in a manner that the water retains original colour, if health cell DNA is added it binds differently turning the water blue.

The new test allows to identify the presence of cancer cells before the manifestation of overt symptoms of the disease.

The University of Queensland researchers were able to detect cancer cells with 90 per cent accuracy in tissue and blood samples, they noted in the journal Nature Communications. These methyl groups are important to cell function because they serve as signals that control which genes are turned on and off at any given time.

To understand how the test works, Dr. Sina says to think of DNA as a Christmas tree, and the methyl groups on its surface as the ornaments on the tree.

"In healthy cells, these methyl groups are spread out across the genome, but the genomes of cancer cells are essentially barren except for intense clusters of methyl groups at very specific locations", said Laura Carrascosa, a professor at the University of Queensland.

The researcher added that "it looks really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker of cancer".

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The team tested the test on 200 samples of cancer cells and found that the test was accurate in 90 percent cases.

Less invasive diagnostic procedures such as this with potential to spot cancer earlier could transform how patients are screened for cancer.

Scientists in Australia have uncovered an low-cost test of more than 10-minute duration, which can detect traces of cancer in the bloodstream. Survival rate for most cancers stagnates at 20% because a majority of the patients come when the disease is already in the advanced, or III and IV, stages.

The research has been supported by a grant from the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The researchers, led by Matt Trau, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at the University of Queensland and deputy director and co-founder of AIBN, examined epigenetic patterns on the genomes of cancer cells and healthy cells.

Dr Ged Brady, from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: 'Further clinical studies are required to evaluate the full clinic potential of the method'.

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