According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around nine million people die of cancer every year in the world, many of these cases due to a late discovery and thus less time to fight and successfully overcome the mutation of cells.
Now from Australia, a researcher from the University of Queensland, developed a test that allows to detect cancer cells and make a quick initial diagnosis in just 10 minutes.
The tool, which is still in the early stages of development, can not identify the specific type of cancer that exists or measures the disease, but it promises to be a test for any type of cancer, giving results in a very short time.
In the study published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers discovered that through DNA differences it was possible to detect abnormalities in cancer cells, especially between those who are and not injured.
This is possible because human cells contain DNA bearing modifications that occur during the methylation process and that is where the experts found that the genomic information on cancer cells differs from the healthy cells.
The cancer DNA fragments immersed in water fold into three-dimensional structures. Based on this, the researchers developed a test based on both the unique behavior of the DNA and the properties of an unexpected ingredient: gold particles.
To assess the presence of cancer, the team added DNA samples to water containing gold nanoparticles that made the water a pink liquid. When DNA in the cancer cells was mixed with the water, it remained pink. However, when DNA was added from healthy cells, a divergent form of particle bond caused the water to turn blue. It is: pink, cancer; blue, absence of cancer.
This technique can eventually make diagnostic tests more accessible and faster by avoiding the need for invasive tissue biopsies. According to Matt Cou, one of the heads of the study explains:
Certainly, we do not know if it is the sacred degree for all cancer diagnoses. But it seems very interesting as an incredibly simple universal cancer marker, and as an affordable device and cheap technology that does not require complex laboratory equipment such as DNA sequencing.
The test was performed with 103 human DNA samples, of which 72 belonged to cancer patients and 31 were from healthy subjects. The test has a sensitivity of about 90%, which means it can detect about 90 out of 100 cases. While the remaining 10% would be false positives.
This mechanism will not be available at hospitals and health centers in the coming months, but it must be said that it is an interesting advance to get early detection of cancer. As soon as it is useful, it is easy to access remote places where they do not have enough equipment to make the diagnosis, and of course, so that doctors can later use the positive results in more specific investigations.