Australian scientists develop '10-minute' cancer test

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Australian scientists develop '10-minute' cancer test

Medical researchers from Australia released a potential bombshell breakthrough in cancer research this week - outlining in a scientific journal how they have developed a cheap and simple blood test that can detect most if not all types of cancer within 10 minutes.

"Our technique could be a screening tool to inform clinicians that a patient may have a cancer, but they would require subsequent tests with other techniques to identify the cancer type and stage", Carrascosa said.

The researchers explained that they developed the technology after observing that different chemical patterns on DNA altered its ability to interact with metals, such as gold.

Senior researcher Matt Trau said it had been hard to find a "simple marker" that would distinguish cancer cells from healthy ones.

"The test is sensitive enough to detect very low levels of cancer DNA in the sample", she added.

The test, which is said to easily detect cancer from blood or biopsy tissue, was created by University of Queensland researchers Dr. Abu Sina, Dr. Laura Carrascosa, and professor Matt Trau. These groups act as switches that switch the genes on and off and are called epigenomes.

Researchers discovered the DNA of cancer cells sticks strongly to nanoparticles of gold - providing a quick determination whether the disease is present, according to The Telegraph. The suspect DNA is added to water containing tiny gold nanoparticles.

In the lab, gold particles are commonly used to help detect biological molecules (such as DNA). "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 for cancer, and as an accessible and low-cost technology that doesn't require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing", Trau said.

The discovery of a unique DNA signature common to multiple cancers could one day revolutionise the way we diagnose cancer, particularly in its early stages, Australian researchers say.

The test also works electrochemically by using flat gold electrodes and small amounts of purified DNA. He said, "We never thought this would be possible, because cancer is so complicated".

The test is offering new hope that all types of the disease can be spotted early when treatment is the most effective, the newspaper said.

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

Since cancer DNA has higher affinity to gold, it provides a higher relative electrochemical current signal in comparison to normal DNA.

It has shown to be up to 90% accurate in tests of 200 human cancer samples and normal DNA, they said, though it has not been tested in a clinical trial.

"Even for breast cancer, there are a dozen types, so we thought there would be different tests for different types of cancer".

Dr Ged Brady, from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: 'Further clinical studies are required to evaluate the full clinic potential of the method'.

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