Thanks to medical advances, we can now treat many cancers, provided the disease is detected early. Doctors rely on preventive medical examinations for early detection, which are often time-consuming, expensive, unpleasant and sometimes even risky. Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, are currently working on a rapid test that will deliver results in just 10 minutes using a few drops of blood or a tissue sample.
Looking for a quick test
Rapid cancer tests have been under discussion for some time. Being able to replace check-ups like mammograms or colonoscopy would not only be cheaper, but also more convenient for the patient. A team led by Abu Ali Ibn Sina of the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, has now taken a step towards a rapid cancer test.
Researchers looked for a way to reliably distinguish healthy cells from cancer cells. " It has been searched for years for a DNA signature that is only characteristic of cancer cells"Laura Carrascosa, who was involved in the study, said the researchers focused their research on so-called methylation, a process in which the methyl groups attach themselves to DNA.methylation occurs in all mature human cells and can influence the way where the genes are decoded.
DNA methylation distinguishes cancer from healthy cells
The researchers have discovered. that both the methylation pattern of tumor cells differ from those of healthy cells. The methyl groups in healthy cells are distributed much more evenly, while they are concentrated in tumor cells at certain points, whereas they are hardly found in others. These aggregates also alter the physical and chemical properties of DNA. The team found that groups of methyl groups cause fragmentation of DNA fragments of tumor cells into three-dimensional nanostructures when they are placed in solution. This also makes DNA fragments very easy to combine with gold.
Based on these results, the team developed a test procedure that requires a sample of DNA and gold nanoparticles. When put together in a solution, a color change occurs that indicates the presence of DNA from cancer cells. The test can be performed in a single drop of liquid and the color change is still visible to the naked eye. Also, it takes only 10 minutes to get a result. The necessary DNA sample can be taken from the blood or another tissue sample. Initial tests have shown that the test success rate can be up to 90% depending on the type of tumor. The test is also applicable to many different types of cancer.
The test is still a dream of the future
" While we can not say with certainty whether our process is the Holy Grail for the diagnosis of all forms of cancer. So far, however, it seems that we have found here a universal biomarker that could be used for an early economic detection test"Co-author Matt Tau says," Then the researchers want to examine the potential of the method in more detail and further refine the test. "At this time, it is not possible to distinguish between different tumors with the test. possible in the future.