New blood test can detect cancer in 10 minutes

midian182

Posts: 6,187   +51
Staff member

Currently, a patient who is suspected to have some form cancer must undergo invasive procedures that involve removing tissue doctors believe is cancerous. There’s then an agonizing wait to find out the good or bad news.

But researchers at Australia’s University of Queensland have come up with a test that’s not only cheaper than traditional methods but also takes just 10 minutes and requires only a drop of blood from the patient.

The team found that cancer DNA and normal DNA stick to metal surfaces differently. They showed that healthy cells pattern their DNA with molecules called methyl groups, which alter the levels of necessary and unnecessary genes. This patterning is absent in cancer cells, where only genes that help cancer growth are “switched on.” And while normal DNA cells have these methyl groups placed everywhere, they only appear in small clusters at specific locations in cancer DNA.

The researchers showed that the different patterns of methyl groups caused DNA to behave differently in water, leading to the development of the new test. It involves adding suspect DNA to water contain gold nanoparticles. These particles turn the water pink. When DNA from cancer cells is added, it sticks to the nanoparticles in a way that ensures the water stays its original pink color. Healthy DNA binds differently, causing it to turn blue.

The test has shown a 90 percent success rate on a sampling size of 200. The team now aims to start clinical trials with patients that have more cancer types than have been tested so far.

“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 inexpensive technology that doesn’t require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing,” said Matt Trau, a professor of chemistry at the University of Queensland.

While it can’t determine the type or severity of cancers, the prospect of a universal 10-minute cancer test is an exciting one.

Image credit: crystal light via shutterstock

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VersPrime

Posts: 6   +4
An exciting development to be sure, although some details in this article aren't quite correct and/or are overly broad.

The researchers tested this new technique on genetic samples taken from cancerous cell lines in plasma (meant to correlate to a blood test) and "tissue-derived" samples (I.e. biopsies). A biopsy is still necessary to obtain the genetic sample since you cannot rely on capturing by sheer chance a cancer cell that has split off from the primary site on its journey to metastasize, especially in a small blood sample. This reliance only holds true for the so-called blood-borne cancers, e.g. lymphoma and leukemia, although a biopsy from a lymph node may still be ordered for a greater chance at detection.

What really is a nice boon from this new technique is how fast and "easy" it can be done, relative to current lab procedures which have higher costs, both in time/manpower and in the materials used. A faster technique allows this to provide a preliminary answer to patients and clinicians while waiting on a full biopsy report, and hopefully reduces the human error component with its simpler process.

I'll have a more thorough read of their paper later, but that's what I got from a quick skim. As always, more testing is needed but I like where this is going. :D
 
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Kibaruk

Posts: 3,836   +1,183
An exciting development to be sure, although some details in this article aren't quite correct and/or are overly broad.

The researchers tested this new technique on genetic samples taken from cancerous cell lines in plasma (meant to correlate to a blood test) and "tissue-derived" samples (I.e. biopsies). A biopsy is still necessary to obtain the genetic sample since you cannot rely on capturing by sheer chance a cancer cell that has split off from the primary site on its journey to metastasize, especially in a small blood sample. This reliance only holds true for the so-called blood-borne cancers, e.g. lymphoma and leukemia, although a biopsy from a lymph node may still be ordered for a greater chance at detection.

What really is a nice boon from this new technique is how fast and "easy" it can be done, relative to current lab procedures which have higher costs, both in time/manpower and in the materials used. A faster technique allows this to provide a preliminary answer to patients and clinicians while waiting on a full biopsy report, and hopefully reduces the human error component with its simpler process.

I'll have a more thorough read of their paper later, but that's what I got from a quick skim. As always, more testing is needed but I like where this is going. :D
It looks like you are summarizing the summary...
 

Mithan

Posts: 106   +92
Hope this is true, it would probably help save a lot of lives with early cancer diagnosis.
 

Per Hansson

Posts: 1,973   +231
Staff member
Wish they would find a "cure"...but, there isn't any money in that. ;)
I suggest that you look at the Nobel price in medicine this year.
Awarded to Allison for his finding of CTLA-4 & Honjo for his finding of PD-1, both are related to keeping the immune system in check, however removing these checks have shown a remarkable life expectancy increase in cancer patients in clinical trials and now that it's been approved by the FDA it's really available to the general public too.
It's also already been shown to be "active" 5 years after stopping treatment, so yes, I would optimistically call it a cure.

The Nobel price in chemistry on the other hand was awarded for directed evolution, that too an amazing step towards cancer treatment.