Cancer breakthrough as scientists develop 'game-changing' 10 minute test

Maricruz Casares
Diciembre 5, 2018

Led by Matt Trau, a professor of chemistry at the University of Queensland, the researchers have run the test on 200 human cancer samples and healthy DNA.

It is hoped that the new test will eventually be performed at the same time as routine blood tests, such as a cholesterol check - or even using a mobile phone app.

He said cancer cells released their DNA into blood plasma when they died.

Previous research has shown that the pattern of DNA methylation in cancer cells differs from that in healthy cells.

Dr. Jeffrey Weber, the deputy director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center at New York University's Langone Health, called the new study "great science" and applauded the idea of looking for a way to detect the cancer DNA methylscape.

"It seems to be a general feature for all cancer".

"If it's very sensitive, we could use it for early diagnosis of cancer ... especially for cancers where there is no screening paradigm, like ovarian and pancreatic", she said.

"We believe that this simple approach would potentially be a better alternative to the current techniques for cancer detection".

It spots tiny amounts of DNA floating through vessels that could only have come from tumors and not from healthy cells.

The technique can also be used on tissue biopsies.

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"The test to detect cancerous cells can be performed in 10 minutes".

These distinct patterns of molecules control which genes are turned on and off at any given time and "decorate the DNA".

The test also works for electrochemical detection - when the DNA is attached onto flat gold electrodes.

The investigators found that the methylscape of cancer DNA causes DNA fragments to fold up into 3D "nanostructures" that have an affinity for gold.

For this test to work properly the DNA must be pure.

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". Accuracy is important to ensure there are fewer false positives - wrongly detecting cancer when there is none.

The team then noted that this novel marker was present in all types of breast cancer, colorectal or bowel cancer, prostate cancer and lymphomas.

The discovery of a unique DNA signature common to multiple cancers could one day revolutionise the way we diagnose cancer, particularly in its early stages, Australian researchers say.

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

"A major advantage of this technique is that it is very cheap and extremely simple to do, so it could be adopted in the clinic quite easily", said Laura Carrascosa, a researcher at the University of Queensland. Read the original article.

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