Blood test to detect cancer within just 10 minutes developed by scientists


Australian researchers have found that cells containing cancer could soon be detected using a simple test.

Currently, the researchers are working with the university's commercialization company, UniQuest, to develop and license the technology; they plan to assess its use in detecting different cancer types across all stages from different bodily fluids as well as in gauging responses to treatment. The team found that methyl group clusters placed in a solution prompted cancer DNA fragments to fold into 3D nanostructures.

But on the genomes of cancer cells, methyl groups were positioned in intense clusters at specific locations.

Researchers demonstrated that there is a tell-tale pattern of gene expression in cancer genomes which is not found in healthy genomes, allowing them to spot cancer DNA circulating in the blood.

"You can compare that with some of our frontline cancer detection techniques", he said.

He said: "Virtually every piece of cancerous DNA we examined had this highly predictable pattern".

They add that the team is developing the test so that it could be used for screening of cancers especially in early stages.

It is now hoped the tests, using blood or tissue samples, will be available within ten years.

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Scientists have developed a universal cancer detection test that traces infectious presence in the bloodstream, the Guardian reported on Wednesday. For this test, he said, they looked at patterns of methyl groups over the DNA.

The position of these molecules forms part of the epigenome - a set of instructions that controls how genes are expressed.

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.

"That absolutely stunned us", Professor Trau said. It's also unclear exactly how high the levels of cancer DNA need to be in order for the test to work, which would affect how early in the course of the disease the test could be used, the researchers said.

Co-author Dr. Laura Carrascosa said: "There's been a big hunt to find whether there is some distinct DNA signature that is just in the cancer and not in the rest of the body".

Ged Brady, of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: "This approach represents an exciting step forward in detecting tumour DNA in blood samples and opens up the possibility of a generalised blood-based test to detect cancer".

The researchers acknowledged that their test needs further study, "but it looks really interesting as an incredibly simple "universal marker" of cancer", Trau said in the statement.

"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 of cancer and as an accessible and low-priced technology that doesn't require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing", Trau added.