Health Care

Test Breakthrough Could See Cancer Diagnosed In Minutes

Test Breakthrough Could See Cancer Diagnosed In Minutes”

According to Trau, cancer cells released their DNA into blood plasma when they perished.

The paper is published in the journal Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07214-w) and included researchers from UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, School of Medicine and Diamantina Institute.

Researchers have developed a test that could be used to diagnose all cancers.

"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 said.

"That absolutely stunned us", Professor Trau said. Trau, M. (2018). Epigenetically reprogrammed methylation landscape drives the DNA self-assembly and serves as a universal cancer biomarker. While the DNA inside normal cells has methyl groups dotted all over it, the DNA inside cancer cells is largely bare, with methyl groups found only in small clusters at specific locations. They are instructions that control the expressions of the genes.

Healthy cells ensure they function properly by patterning their DNA with molecules called methyl groups.

"It seems that to launch cancer, you have to run a series of genetic apps".

The team used cancerous DNA molecules and placed it in a chemical solution that let it to fold in complex 3D structures. This changes the colour of the solution containing the nanoparticles and this change can be detected with the "naked eye" said Trau.

While the test is still in development, it draws on a radical new approach to cancer detection that could make routine screening for the disease a simple procedure for doctors.

Now doctors use symptoms and a raft of tests and biopsies to determine if cancer is present which can sometimes take months.

The research was funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the researchers are now working with the University of Queensland's commercialisation company UniQuest to further develop the technology.

"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", said Laura Carrascosa, a researcher at the University of Queensland.

"It's in early stages and will have to be validated ... but I think it's very interesting - it's a totally different approach", Associate Professor Gray said.

The test can use "circulating free DNA", or DNA released into the blood from cancer or healthy cells.

So, the researchers developed a test that exploits this ability of cancer DNA to stick to gold.

Professor Trau said the next stage of the research was to conduct more clinical testing.

Co-author Professor Matt Trau, from the University of Queensland, said: '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 a very accessible and affordable technology'.



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