Australian Researchers Develop 10-Minute Test to Detect Cancer

Australian Researchers Develop 10-Minute Test to Detect Cancer

"We believe that this simple approach would potentially be a better alternative to the current techniques for cancer detection".

The testing was developed by researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia.

That's because the test is only accurate 90 per cent of the time - while it does not reveal where the cancer cells are located and how serious it is. They studied patterns of cancerous DNA and healthy DNA, finding that the latter is sticky against metal surfaces.

The test described in Nature Communications exploits the differences between the DNA in cancerous and healthy cells to allow for a quick, early diagnosis. 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 new study focused on the "epigenome", or chemical modifications to DNA that turn genes "on" or "off".

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.

When circulating tumor DNA fragments are placed in water, they begin to fold into 3D shapes different than DNA from healthy cells-driven by the dense clusters of methyl groups found along DNA molecules that have been reprogrammed by cancer.

More news: Sonali Bendre returns to India after cancer treatment | Sonali Bendre | cancer

Senior researcher Matt Trau said it had been hard to find a "simple marker" that would distinguish cancer cells from healthy ones. "This is a huge discovery that no one has grasped before", said Carrascosa.

Dr. Jeffrey Weber, the deputy director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center at New York University's Langone Health, called the new study "great science" and applauded the idea of looking for a way to detect the cancer DNA methylscape. The suspect DNA is added to water containing tiny gold nanoparticles. This requires a tiny amount of purified DNA to be mixed with some drops of gold particle solution.

"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 low-cost technology that doesn't require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing", Trau added.

A universal cancer test would not be precise enough to detect tumour location or size, but it enables doctors to give a yes or no answer. 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. It's also unclear exactly how high the levels of cancer DNA need to be in order for the test to work, which would affect how early in the course of the disease the test could be used, the researchers said.

Cancer is caused by changes in DNA, which controls the way cells function.

These instantly change color depending on whether the 3D nanostructures of cancer DNA are present. This feature appears to be common to cancer DNA in general, regardless of the type of cancer, the researchers said.

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