BOFFINS has created a blood test that can tell patients if they have almost any type of cancer – in just 10 minutes.
The new radical method – in which blood is dropped into a vial of liquid – is still under development, but if it were implemented it would be a huge change for cancer screening making it quick and easy for doctors to diagnose patients.
The method, which is not invasive and economical, involves a fluid that changes color if any malignant cell – from any part of the body – is detected in the blood.
The test has a sensitivity of about 90%, which means that it detects 90 out of 100 cases of cancer. Doctors would then be able to carry out further tests to diagnose the particular type of patient's disease.
Scientists have discovered that cancer DNA and normal DNA attach themselves to the metal differently and behave differently in water. So they added small gold nanoparticles to the water, which make the rose more liquid.
If the blood with cancer DNA is dropped into water, it sticks to the metal particles and the water remains the same color. But healthy DNA attaches itself to gold in a different way, which turns water into blue.
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The study was conducted by Matt Trau, a professor of chemistry at the University of Queensland in Australia, who said: "We do not know yet whether it is the Holy Grail for all diagnostic systems for cancer, but it seems really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker for cancer and an affordable and inexpensive technology that does not require complicated laboratory-based equipment such as DNA sequencing. "
The researcher Laura Carrascosa added: "Our technique could be a screening tool to inform doctors that a patient could have cancer, but would require subsequent tests with other techniques to identify the type and stage of cancer".
Ged Brady, of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, told the Guardian: "This approach represents an exciting step forward in detecting tumor DNA in blood samples and opens up the possibility of a generalized blood test to detect cancer."
But he warned that more clinical trials are needed. So far, the test has been conducted on only 200 blood samples to identify healthy or carcinogenic DNA.