Publicado: Jue, Diciembre 06, 2018
Salud | Por Gertrudes Rodriquez

Using water and gold, Australian researchers discover 'universal cancer biomarker'

Using water and gold, Australian researchers discover 'universal cancer biomarker'

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have developed a new test that can detect the presence of cancer cells in the body.

"On normal cells, these [beads] are evenly distributed, but in cancer cells they're actually bunched up together", he said.

Writing in the journal Nature Communications Dr Matt Trau, Professor of Chemistry, said: "Our approach enabled non-invasive cancer detection, i.e a blood test, in 10 min from plasma derived DNA samples with excellent specificity". This allowed them to develop a test that distinguishes between healthy cells and cancerous ones, even from the tiny traces of DNA that find their way into the bloodstream. In cancer cells, this patterning is hijacked so that only genes that help the cancer grow are switched on.

The team found that in the healthy cells these methyl groups are spread across the genome.

The team noticed that in cancer cells, methyl groups were clustered at certain positions on the genome - a stark contrast to healthy cells where the groups are dispersed throughout.

Gold nanoparticles produced by laser ablation in heavy water. "This could be done in conjunction with other tests and the combined information may give us a lot of ideas of where the cancer is and the stage".

It turns out these structures stick to gold, so when cancerous DNA is put into a solution with gold nanoparticles, it attaches to them and instantly changes the colour of solution.

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Previous research has shown that the pattern of DNA methylation in cancer cells differs from that in healthy cells.

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 low-cost technology'.

The next step is to do a large clinical study to understand how early a cancer can be detected based on this novel DNA signature.

Dr Gray, who studies the cancer biomarkers of melanoma, said more work was needed to determine if the test would be useful as a screening tool.

To test for cancer today, doctors must collect a tissue biopsy from a patient's suspected tumour. Additionally, the research was supported by a National Breast Cancer Foundation grant to advance cancer diagnosis testing.

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.

A normal cell DNA's distinct methyl pattern is crucial to regulating its machinery and maintaining its functions. These signatures are gold-hungry, which makes them possible to identify with a simple color-change test. Trials are still in the initial stages and it has only been tested on breast, bowel, prostate, and lymphoma cancers but the researchers say it could have the ability to spot any type of cancer with up to 90 percent accuracy.

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