Rapid Test for Cancer Developed by Researchers

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But Paul Pharoah, professor of cancer epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, said the results were "too preliminary to be exciting".

The test has a sensitivity of about 90 per cent, meaning it would detect about 90 in 100 cases of cancer, with 10 per cent false positives.

It is created to detect cancer from blood or biopsy tissue by analysing methyl group changes at the genomic level.

In healthy cells, these methyl groups are spread out across the genome.

Taking a different tack, he and his colleagues looked instead at patterns of molecules called methyl groups, which decorate the DNA and control which genes are switched on and off.

While he can see a future where these tests could be commonplace, Mr Eccles said he thinks they will be used in conjunction with existing tests. It detects a simple physical event, a color change or an electrochemical signal, that occurs when cancer-reprogrammed DNA clumps around gold nanoparticles.

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. Researchers then watch for a reaction which would change the colour of the water. Even better, the test works on circulating free DNA, molecular fragments that drift through easily obtained body fluids. Like healthy cells, cancer cells are always in the process of dying and renewing.

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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 cheap technology'. 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.

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.

The DNA in cancer cells can have mutations that affect the growth of a specific tumour, but these differences depend on the type of cancer. The test however can detect only the presence of the cancer and not the site of the cancer, stage of the cancer or the type of the cancer.

"With normal DNA, when you add it to the solution, it can not stabilize this solution, and when you add a small amount of salt, it changes the colour to blue", Dr. Sina explained.

"This test could be done in combination with other simple tests, and become a powerful diagnostic tool that could not just say that you have cancer, but also the type and stage", said Carrascosa.

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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