This New 10-Minute Test Detects Cancer Early Using Gold Particles

Photo by W2 Photography / Stocksy

Here at mbg we talk a lot about preventive medicine, especially when it comes to cancer, which includes dietary and lifestyle changes like managing stress and reducing environmental toxins. But that's only part of the cancer-combating equation. Early detection is essential, as it increases the chances of successful treatment, and scientists have been developing ways to detect cancer earlier in non-invasive ways—but a new discovery by researchers from the University of Queensland may be the most important to date.

Now, thanks to these Australian researchers, we have a way to identify cancerous cells using just a 10-minute test and any tissue sample (including a blood sample), according to their new study published in Nature Communications.

How does it work? All of our healthy cells contain patterns of molecules called methyl groups, which spread across the genome. In cancer cells, these methyl groups appear in dense clusters at certain locations, and when affected cells were put in water, it caused, "DNA fragments to fold into unique three-dimensional nanostructures that could easily be separated by sticking to solid surfaces such as gold," says Matt Trau, one of the study authors.

The altered cell structure of the cancer cell found in the sample was drawn to gold particles, changing the color of the cell when they came in contact and allowing scientists to separate the cancer cells from the healthy cells.

So, while the method uses circulating cancer DNA in the blood, similar to a liquid biopsy, this detection method is novel because it's simple, less expensive than other testing methods, and has the potential to pair with a smartphone.

While the test has yet to be done on humans, the study reports 90 percent accuracy after testing 200 human cancer samples and healthy DNA. "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," Dr. Abu Sina said in a statement.

The next step is to run large-scale clinical trials to determine just how early cancer can be detected. The researchers are already assessing whether other bodily fluids could be tested to detect cancers. These are cutting-edge discoveries, and we are standing by for what happens next.

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