A group of researchers claims to have created a "revolutionary" blood test that could identify the presence of cancer. While such a test looks promising, it's not necessarily infallible, experts warn.
By analyzing healthy cells and tumor cells, scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia discovered that DNA fragments of cancer adhered to solid surfaces such as metals in very different ways. Using this information, they developed a "simple" test in which the blood would be mixed with a solution containing gold nanoparticles, according to an article published in Nature Communications, an open access scientific journal subjected to peer review. If cancerous DNA of any kind is found in the blood, the gold nanoparticles change color.
"Finding that cancerous DNA molecules formed 3D nanostructures completely different from normal circulating DNA was a breakthrough that allowed a completely new approach to detect cancer non-invasively in any type of tissue including blood," said Matt Trau , professor at the University of Queensland and one of the co-authors of the study, in a statement.
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The researchers argued that their test could pave the way for a more inexpensive and rapid cancer diagnosis process. The testing process lasts only 10 minutes and can be adapted to an economic and portable diagnostic device, they said. "We certainly do not know yet whether it is the Holy Grail for all the diagnostic tests of cancer, but it seems really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker of cancer, and as an affordable and inexpensive technology that does not require complicated laboratory equipment like DNA sequencing. "said Trau.
But observers were very reluctant to celebrate the news. In fact, this is just the latest example of a "simple" cancer blood test. In June, a separate group of US researchers announced they had created a blood test that could identify up to 10 types of cancer. And in January, scientists at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine announced the formulation of a $ 500 blood test called CancerSEEK, which could identify eight types of cancer before symptoms develop.
"I've always said that every time you hear about a simple" cancer test ", you're running through the hills because there's nothing like it", Gary Schwitzer, founder and editor of HealthNewsReview.org , wrote in an article that advises caution regarding the latest cancer blood test. "This researcher could refer to technology, but the application of this technology – the jump from the laboratory to the bedside – brings with it many levels of complexity".
In particular, Australian researchers have noted that their test has successfully identified 90% of cancer cases, but as Schwitzer noted "the affirmation of an incredibly simple universal marker begins to look like a little". empty "for those whose cancer has not been identified by the test.
Furthermore, while the test presumably can identify whether someone has cancer to begin with, it can not yet determine the origin or severity of the disease. For this, patients should undergo further tests, which take time and can create anxiety.
Others have expressed concern that the test can produce false positives, which could force people to undergo unnecessary tests and stress.
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