Australian Scientists Develop Incredible '10 Minute' Cancer Cell Test

A blood test

Australian researchers Dr. Abu Sina, Dr. Laura Carrascosa and professor Matt Trau from the University of Queensland, Australia, have developed a ground-breaking cancer test that can detect the illness from blood or biopsy tissue in just 10 minutes.

Relatively affordable and simple testing was made possible due to the team's discovery of cancer DNA and normal DNA sticking to metal surfaces in very different ways, allowing development of a test which can distinguish between healthy cells and those that are cancerous, even from tiny traces of DNA that find their way into the bloodstream. He further added that this discovery has led the researchers to develop a portable and low-cost detection device that could be used as a cancer detecting tool, also possibly with a mobile phone.

He said cancer cells released their DNA into blood plasma when they died.

The technology has also been adapted for electrochemical systems that allow cheap and portable detection that could eventually be performed using a mobile phone. The accuracy is about 90%, so specialists could detect cancer in 90 out of 100 cases.

Tests in the lab showed that the scientists could distinguish normal DNA from cancer DNA by looking for a colour change in the gold particle solution that was visible to the naked eye within a few minutes.

But Dr. Nissenblatt says that the test could still prove to be useful. These work a little bit like a remote control device, turning various genes on and off.

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"In healthy cells, these methyl groups are spread out across the genome, but the genomes of cancer cells are essentially barren except for intense clusters of methyl groups at very specific locations".

The test is however in a nascent stage and requires further development as it can now only determine the presence of cancer, but not the disease type, location or its progression.

One question posed by Di Carlo: Do results depend on how much DNA is added - especially since cancer cells have more DNA? In contrast, normal DNA folds in a somewhat different way, which does not result in such a strong affinity for gold, the researchers said.

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

It's also attractive "as a very accessible and affordable technology that does not require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing", he said. "Further clinical studies are required to evaluate the full clinic potential of the method".

A genetic pattern in all cancers, researchers said Tuesday, could help make diagnosing cancer more accessible and affordable.

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