Australian researchers have developed a ground-breaking, 10-minute cancer test that might aid patient diagnosis in the future.
Now doctors use symptoms and a raft of tests and biopsies to determine if cancer is present which can sometimes take months.
According to Dr. Sina, each type of cancer has a different signature, and it can be hard to find a signature that's common to all cancers and different from healthy cells.
In the DNA of healthy cells, small molecules called methyl groups are used as a form of "volume control", turning genes on and off so that they can perform the functions required for the specific kind...
Taking advantage of this finding, the researchers designed a new test that uses gold nanoparticles to detect cancer.
Helpfully, these molecule clusters fold up into structures which like to stick to gold so can be tested for by using the precious metal. But if DNA from healthy cells is added, the DNA binds to the particles differently, and turns the water blue.
The researchers were surprised to find the marker appeared in every type of breast cancer they examined, as well as in people with prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and lymphoma.
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Scientists have developed a universal cancer detection test that traces infectious presence in the bloodstream, the Guardian reported on Wednesday. We have not yet tested other cancers, but because the methylation pattern is similar across all cancers it is likely the DNA will respond in the same way.
The next step is to do a large clinical study to understand how early a cancer can be detected based on this novel DNA signature.
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.
Since cancer DNA has higher affinity to gold, it provides a higher relative electrochemical current signal in comparison to normal DNA.
Prof Trau said the results "stunned" them and they realized that this was a "general feature for all cancer". This changes the colour of the solution containing the nanoparticles and this change can be detected with the "naked eye" said Trau. This new technology, which was shown to be up to 90 percent accurate in testing with normal DNA and 200 human cancer samples, could be turned into portable detection tools down the line.
Mr Trau of Queensland University acknowledged yesterday that "we certainly don't know yet whether it's the holy grail for all cancer diagnostics". "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", Trau said.