New test can de­tect all types of cancer within min­utes

The Hitavada - - FRONT PAGE -

SCI­EN­TISTS, in­clud­ing one of In­dian-ori­gin, have de­vel­oped a quick test that can de­tect all types of cancer from blood or biopsy tis­sues within min­utes.

The test, de­vel­oped by re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Queens­land in Aus­tralia, who have dis­cov­ered a unique DNA nanos­truc­ture that ap­pears to be com­mon to all can­cers.

Cancer is an ex­tremely com­pli­cated and vari­able dis­ease and dif­fer­ent types of cancer have dif­fer­ent sig­na­tures.

It had been dif­fi­cult to find a sim­ple sig­na­ture that was dis­tinct from healthy cells and com­mon to 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,” said Abu Sina, from Univer­sity of Queens­land.

“The lev­els and pat­terns of tiny mol­e­cules called methyl groups that dec­o­rate DNA are al­tered dra­mat­i­cally by cancer -- these methyl groups are key for cells to control which genes are turned on and off,” said Sina.

Re­searchers de­vel­oped a tool that could look at these pat­tern changes at the whole genome level within min­utes.

“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,” Laura Car­ras­cosa, a pro­fes­sor at Univer­sity of Queens­land.

The team dis­cov­ered that in­tense clus­ters of methyl groups placed in a so­lu­tion caused cancer Deoxyri­bonu­cleic

Acid (DNA) frag­ments to fold into unique three-di­men­sional nanos­truc­tures that could eas­ily be sep­a­rated by stick­ing to solid sur­faces such as gold.

Sci­en­tists, in­clud­ing one of In­dian-ori­gin, at Aus­tralian Univer­sity of Queens­land, have dis­cov­ered a unique DNA nanos­truc­ture that ap­pears to be com­mon to all can­cers

“We de­signed a sim­ple test us­ing gold nanopar­ti­cles that in­stantly change colour to de­ter­mine if the 3D nanos­truc­tures of cancer DNA are present,” said Matt Trau, a pro­fes­sor a Univer­sity of Queens­land.

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

“So we were very ex­cited about an easy way of catch­ing these cir­cu­lat­ing free cancer DNA sig­na­tures in blood,” he said.

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 non­in­va­sively in any tis­sue type in­clud­ing blood.

“This led to the cre­ation of in­ex­pen­sive and por­ta­ble de­tec­tion de­vices that could even­tu­ally be used as a di­ag­nos­tic tool, pos­si­bly with a mo­bile phone,” said Trau.

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

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