Medical

Australian researchers develop 10-minute cancer test

Australian researchers develop 10-minute cancer test

To date, they have tested the assay on 200 samples across different cancer types.

The technique can also be used on tissue biopsies.

The next step for the test will be validating it with tests on more cancer patients "to make sure that it actually stands up", followed by clinical trials that could take years, he said. Instead, they are now just one step in the process.

The DNA in cancer cells can be riddled with mutations that drive the growth of a specific tumour, but these mutations tend to differ depending on the type of cancer.

About nine in 10 cancer deaths involve a diagnosis that came too late.

The new method from the University of Queensland looks for differences in the genetic code of cancerous and healthy cells. Methyl groups, essentially a carbon atom with three hydrogen atoms attached to it, play a role in switching genes on and off based on a number of factors, such as whether they're inherited from the mother or the father, various environmental cues, and, as some research is indicating, trauma and other stressors.

Methylation are marks that indicate whether pieces of DNA should be read, Di Carlo said. This allowed them to develop a test that distinguishes between healthy cells and cancerous ones, even from the tiny traces of DNA that find their way into the bloodstream.

Almost every cell in a person's body has the same DNA, but studies have found that cancer's progression causes this DNA to undergo considerable reprogramming.




And so, Sina and colleagues compared the epigenetic patterns on the genomes of cancer cells to those of healthy cells, specifically focusing on patterns of methyl groups.

"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".

A breakthrough in cancer research might have occurred.

The team conducted a series of tests to confirm the patterns of methyl groups in lymphoma, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer; then showed these patterns had impact on DNA chemistry making normal and cancer DNA behave differently in water.

Taking advantage of this, the researchers designed a test that uses gold nanoparticles.

Trau said: "This happens in one drop of fluid.

This led to the creation of cheap 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. "The test is sensitive enough to detect very low levels of cancer DNA in the sample", Carrascosa said. This new discovery could be a game-changer.

Although not yet ideal, the researchers said it is a promising start and will only get better with time.


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