Sunday, 17 February, 2019

DNA 'fingerprint' brings prospect of fast test for cancer

Australian researchers develop 10-minute cancer test Australian researchers develop 10-minute cancer test
Ben Pena | 08 December, 2018, 07:30

If the water stays pink this would suggest you have cancer, although the test can not detect what type or how advanced the disease is. They further claimed that this test is likely to make cancer diagnosis more accessible and affordable.

The researchers were surprised to find the marker appeared in every type of breast cancer they examined, as well as in people with prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and lymphoma.

Relatively low-cost and simple testing was made possible due to the team's discovery of cancer DNA and normal DNA sticking to metal surfaces in very different ways, allowing development of a test which can distinguish between healthy cells and those that are cancerous, even from tiny traces of DNA that find their way into the bloodstream.

"Because cancer is an extremely complicated and variable disease, it has been hard to find a simple signature common to all cancers, yet distinct from healthy cells". These methyl groups are important to cell function because they serve as signals that control which genes are turned on and off at any given time. Patterns of them in cancer cells, the study suggests, stick to gold. Specifically, cancer DNA has clusters of methyl groups at specific locations and nearly no methylation elsewhere, while normal DNA's methyl groups are more evenly spread out across the entire genome.

The portable, cheap test could help detect cancer far sooner than current methods, according to the authors of the study in the December 4 issue of Nature Communications. When the DNA from cancers cells was added, the water retains its color.

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"Using. a high-resolution microscope, we saw that cancerous DNA fragments folded into three-dimensional structures in water". But if DNA from healthy cells is added, the DNA binds to the particles differently, and turns the water blue.

They used the test on more than 200 tissue and blood samples and found that it was 90 percent accurate in detecting cancerous cells, CNN reported.

Although it is far too early to know how useful the discovery could be as a clinical tool, scientists said it was an exciting advance in the understanding of cancer. Currently, biopsy of the suspected tumour is the only confirmative test for canmcer detection. The procedure is invasive and relies on the patient noticing a lump, or reporting symptoms that their GP recognises as a potential sign of cancer. "If cancer is detected early, 80% patients can be cured of the disease", said a senior AIIMS doctor.

Corresponding author Professor Matt Trau, from the University of Queensland, Brisbane, in Australia, reckons it may be the "holy grail" of cancer diagnostics.

A new blood test will diagnose cancer in just ten minutes.

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