Researchers reveal a potential breakthrough for cancer: a 10-minute universal test | 1 NEWS NOW


Australian medical researchers have unveiled a potential discovery of cancer research this week – describing in a scientific journal how they have developed a simple and cheap blood test that can detect most cancers in ten minutes.

"I think this is potentially very exciting," Otago University professor Mike Eccles told TVNZ 1 Café this morning as he helped explain the findings. "It still needs a bit more work to develop it further, but I think it can really be a real breakthrough, actually."

Researchers at the University of Queensland were able to detect cancer cells with 90 percent accuracy in tissue and blood samples, they noted in the journal Nature Communications.

"We designed a simple test using gold nanoparticles that instantly change color to determine if the DNA nanostructures of cancer DNA are present," said Matt Trau in a statement released yesterday, explaining that cancer cells release their DNA into the blood plasma when they die.

"So we were very excited about an easy way to get these cancer DNA signatures circulating in the blood," he said.
Mr. Eccles, of the University of Otago, suggested thinking of DNA as beads on a string when visualizing how the test works.

"In normal cells, these [beads] are evenly distributed, but in cancer cells they are actually clustered, "he said. It's as if we've been put on the rope. And then there are long sections where there are no accounts.

"This makes it bind to the gold nanoparticles, and it's much stronger binding than normal DNA is."

While he may see a future where such tests may be commonplace, Mr. Eccles said he thinks they will be used in conjunction with existing tests.

"The gold standard is biopsy, and I think that's still going to have to be done," he said. "This is just one way to get early detection."

The next step for the test will be to validate it with tests on more cancer patients "to make sure it actually stands up," followed by clinical tests that can take years, he said.

Trau, of the University of Queensland, acknowledged yesterday that "we certainly do not know yet whether it is the Holy Grail for all cancer diagnoses." But the potential is certainly there, he said.

"It looks really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker of cancer, and as an affordable and inexpensive technology that does not require complicated laboratory-based equipment such as DNA sequencing," he said.


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