This 10-Minute Test Can Detect Cancer Anywhere in your Body

The new technology has proven to be up to 90 percent accurate in tests of 200 human cancer samples.

Dec 26, 2018

An easy 10-minute test to detect cancer has been developed by an Australian research team. This could be the discovery that revolutionizes the way we detect cancer and could make cancer screenings as routine as blood tests.

The researchers from the University of Queensland found a unique DNA structure that appears to be common to every type of cancer they tested for including prostate, lymphoma and various types of breast cancer.

Cancers are very complicated, and different cancers have very different signatures and use different types of screenings to detect. Up until now, scientists have not been able to identify a simple signature that was common to all cancers.

Dr. Abu Sina, one of the three researchers, said that it was difficult to find a simple signature that was distinct from healthy cells and found in all cancerous cells. “This unique nano-scaled DNA signature appeared in every type of breast cancer we examined, and in other forms of cancer including prostate, colorectal and lymphoma,” he told the Queensland University News.

“The levels and patterns of tiny molecules called methyl groups that decorate DNA are altered dramatically by cancer – these methyl groups are key for cells to control which genes are turned on and off,” Sina explained.

The team noted that in healthy cells these groups are spread out across the genome – the complete set of genes or genetic material present in a cell or organism – but the genomes only contained intense clusters of methyl groups.

Professor Matt Trau, one of the researchers, tested the clusters of methyl groups in a solution and found they could be separated from the cells by sticking to solid surfaces like gold.

“We designed a simple test using gold nanoparticles that instantly change color to determine if the 3D nanostructures of cancer DNA are present,” Trau said.

From the test, the researchers found that cancer cells released their DNA into blood plasma when they died. “So we were very excited about an easy way of catching these circulating free cancer DNA signatures in blood,” Trau added.

This important breakthrough led to the creation of an inexpensive, portable detection device that could be used as a diagnostic tool. Possibly even as an app on a smart device.

This new technology has proved to be up to 90 percent accurate in tests of 200 human cancer samples and normal DNA according to the University. The research was supported by a grant from the National Breast Cancer Foundation and published in Nature Communications on December 3, 2018.

“We certainly don't know yet whether it’s the holy grail for all cancer diagnostics, but it looks really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker of cancer, and as an accessible and inexpensive technology that doesn’t require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing,” Trau said.

The researchers hope that this test will allow cancer screenings to be part of a routine checkup. Frequent screenings will allow cancers to be caught much earlier and early cancer detection will save lives.

If the Cancer test continues to be successful in trials, this new technology could be instrumental in offering inexpensive cancer screenings via smart devices in rural and under medical serviced parts of the world. It's amazing what can develop in just 10 minutes.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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