A newly developed cancer test can reportedly detect any type of cancer strain in just minutes.
Researchers from the University of Queensland just developed a new approach to expedite the detection of not just one cancer, but all of its kind. According to the paper, published in Nature Communications, the cancer test can trace all types of the disease in less than 10 minutes.
The test is still in its early development and is yet to be tested on humans. However, the approach could reportedly revolutionize cancer prevention not only by simplifying the routine screening of the disease for doctors but also by lowering its cost.
“A major advantage of this technique is that it is very cheap and extremely simple to do, so it could be adopted in the clinic quite easily,” Laura Carrascosa, one of the researchers from the University of Queensland.
The New Cancer Test
To date, doctors need to perform a surgical procedure called a tissue biopsy to detect the presence of cancer. For years, medical researchers searched for a faster and less invasive way of diagnosing the early stages of cancer.
With their new approach, the research team looked for tiny molecules known as methyl groups. These groups act like beacons that turn our DNA genes on and off.
The researchers discovered that when the DNA is mixed in a chemical solution, the methyl groups fold into specific nanostructures. These structures then stick to surfaces like gold, making them detectable. The methylation of DNA could reportedly provide an overall picture of whether cancer is present in a body or not.
“We designed a simple test using gold nanoparticles that instantly change color to determine if the 3D nanostructures of cancer DNA are present. This led to the creation of inexpensive and portable detection devices that could eventually be used as a diagnostic tool, possibly with a mobile phone,” Matt Trau, lead researcher of the study, said.
For the test to produce accurate results, the DNA must be pure. The research team has already tested over 200 tissue and blood samples, recording 90 percent accuracy. The cancer cells that the researchers detected include breast, prostate, bowel, and lymphoma.
However, the cancer test has not yet been tested on all types of the disease. Researchers still maintain that the DNA is likely to respond in the same manner across other cancer samples.
“The early detection of cancer & the early detection of cancer recurrence are two areas where this test may find use, and where there is a strong need to move away from more expensive, less accurate and centralized systems such as mammography, PET, MRI, etc.,” Trau went on to say.