Australian researchers develop a 10-minute cancer test: CNN


The test was developed after researchers from the University of Queensland discovered that cancer forms a unique DNA structure when it is submerged in water.

The test works by identifying the presence of that structure, a discovery that could help detect cancer in humans much earlier than current methods, according to the paper published in the journal Nature Communications.
"Finding that cancerous DNA molecules made entirely of 3D nanostructures other than normal circulating DNA was a breakthrough that allowed a completely new approach to detect cancer non-invasively in any type of tissue including blood," he said. Professor Matt Trau in a note.

"This led to the creation of portable and inexpensive detection devices that could be used as a diagnostic tool, possibly with a cell phone," he added.

Scientists all over the world have worked on ways to identify cancer earlier, since it is known that early diagnosis increases the success rate of therapeutic treatment and surgery.

At the beginning of this year, researchers at John Hopkins University in the United States announced that they had developed a blood test called CancerSEEK, which fencing for eight common cancers. That test identifies the presence of carcinogenic proteins and genetic mutations in blood samples. Much more research needs to be done before the test can be widely used, the US researchers added.

How does it work

The 10-minute test developed in Australia has yet to be used in humans and extensive clinical trials are needed before they can be used on potential patients.

So far the signs are positive.

Tests on more than 200 samples of tissue and blood have detected cancer cells with a 90% accuracy, the researchers said.

So far it has only been used to detect breast, prostate, bowel and lymphoma tumors, but they are confident that the results can be replicated with other types of disease.

"Researchers have long been looking for a commonality between tumors to develop a diagnostic tool that can be applied to all kinds," wrote Trau and his research partners Abu Sina and Laura Carrascosa in an article for the news site The Conversation academics.

Cancer alters the DNA of healthy cells, particularly in the distribution of molecules known as methyl groups, and the test detects this altered pattern when it is placed in a solution such as water.

"Using … a high-resolution microscope, we saw fragments of cancerous DNA bent into three-dimensional structures in water, different from what we've seen with normal tissue DNA in water," the article explains.

The test uses gold particles, which bind to DNA influenced by cancer and "can influence molecular behavior in a way that causes visible changes in color," he added.

The next step for the team is to stage clinical trials on how early cancer can be detected and whether the test can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.

They are also examining the possibility of using different body fluids to detect different types of cancer from the initial stages to the later stages of the disease.



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