One Test to Diagnose Them All — Universal Cancer Test

Ebony Scott
December 6, 2018

Do you have cancer or not? The test could one day change how cancers are diagnosed, the team says.

"If it's very sensitive, we could use it for early diagnosis of cancer ... especially for cancers where there is no screening paradigm, like ovarian and pancreatic", she said. And-perhaps best of all-the test doesn't rely on fancy equipment such as a DNA sequencing instrument. This changes the colour of the solution containing the nanoparticles and this change can be detected with the "naked eye" said Trau. The test is so simple and easy that it could be a natural for point-of-care diagnostics.

Chemistry Professor and research associate Matt Trau 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 for cancer, and as an accessible and cheap technology that doesn't require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing".

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.

The researchers found that in healthy cells, methyl groups are spread out across the genome.

The researchers found the signature in multiple types of breast cancer as well as in prostate and colorectal cancer, and lymphoma.

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The portable, low-priced test could help detect cancer far sooner than current methods, according to the authors of the study in the December 4 issue of Nature Communications.

"We examine the effect of levels and genomic distribution of methylcytosines on the physicochemical properties of DNA to detect the methylscape biomarker", the authors wrote.

"Discovering that cancerous DNA molecules formed entirely different 3D nanostructures from normal circulating DNA was a breakthrough that has enabled an entirely new approach to detect cancer non-invasively in any tissue type including blood".

Scientists have developed a universal cancer detection test that traces infectious presence in the bloodstream, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.

The new technology has proved to be up to 90 percent accurate in tests involving 200 human cancer samples and normal DNA.

"It works for tissue-derived genomic DNA and blood-derived circulating free DNA", noted Abu Sina, a researcher in Dr. Trau's lab and a co-author of the current paper. Matt Trau, a professor at AIBN who led the research, describes it as like a genetic program or app that the cancerous cell needs in order to function. Indeed, this test is so convenient and affordable that in the not-too-distant future we could all be carrying around our own personal cancer detector - on our cell phones.

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