- Scientists at the University of Brisbane may have found a simple way of detecting the early stages of cancer.
- The method is inexpensive, takes 10 minutes, and can work for all types of cancer.
- The test uses gold particles to detect cancerous DNA.
- The gold particles are colored red when in water but change color depending on whether 3D cancer nanostructures are present.
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According to Nature, researchers at the University of Brisbane may have developed a simple test that’s able to detect the early stages of cancer.
Not only that but the method is inexpensive, takes a mere 10 minutes, and works for all types of cancer — and the central component used for identifying cancer cells is gold particles.
Similarly to normal, healthy cells, cancer cells die and regenerate.
The key difference between the former and the latter is that cancer cells divide at an explosive rate, spreading cancer throughout the body via the blood and causing mutated DNA to end up elsewhere.
Abu Sina, Laura Carrascosa, Matt Trau were among the team of researchers to identify specific structures that distinguish mutated DNA from healthy DNA.
As cancer is a complex and variable disease, it has been incredibly challenging until now to find a simple signature common to all cancers that’s distinct from healthy cells.
They searched for patterns of molecules called methyl groups on the surface of DNA in healthy and cancerous cells — in healthy cells, the groups are scattered across the genome.
Cancer cells, however, may as well be devoid of them — except for intense clusters of the molecules in specific areas.
When in solution, the methyl group clusters cause cancer DNA fragments transform into three-dimensional nanostructures that are strongly attracted to gold.
The researchers used gold nanoparticles that are colored red when in water. The particles change color depending on whether the 3D cancer nanostructures are present.
On adding cancerous DNA, it’s possible to identify tissue as cancerous as diseased cells unfold into 3D structures that leave the liquid reddish in color; the liquid turns blue when the DNA is non-cancerous.
So far, the scientists have tested the new detection system on some 200 samples of different sorts of human cancers, as well as on healthy cells — the researchers found that the accuracy of cancer detection ran as high as 90% in certain cases.
There may be scope for implementing the test and smartphones
According to the research, the technology is also adapted for electrochemical systems, which would essentially mean we could eventually carry a cost-effective and portable detection system on our phones.
“We certainly don’t know yet whether it’s the Holy Grail or not for all cancer diagnostics,” said Trau in a statement published in PhysOrg News, “but it looks really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker of cancer, and as a very accessible and inexpensive technology that does not require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing.”
Read the original article on Business Insider Deutschland. Copyright 2018.
This post originally appeared on Business Insider Deutschland and has been translated from German.
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