Scientists have developed a new tool which uses tiny nanoparticles to mine blood samples for information about cancer.
The technology developed by the scientists at the University of Manchester in the UK for in depth analysis of blood allows the identification of previously unknown molecules.
However, our blood contains so much information it can be hard to uncover disease-specific signatures.
Markers released into the bloodstream as a response to a disease are often difficult to detect because they are too small and too few in number.
The study demonstrated that small molecules -- specifically proteins -- stick to the nanoparticles while in the blood circulation of cancer patients.
"Inaccuracy is a problem in many blood tests which either fail to pick up disease biomarkers or give false positives or false negatives," said Marilena Hadjidemetriou from the University of Manchester.
"We believe this nano-scavenger technology could be a game-changer," Hadjidemetriou said.
"Fishing out" the nanoparticles from the blood can then allow the analysis of the sticky molecules, called a 'corona', some of which are released from the growing cancer.
"We want to amplify cancer signals in the blood that would otherwise be buried among all this other 'molecular noise'," said Kostas Kostarelos from the University of Manchester.
"Our team hopes to discover panels of biomolecules that can point to early warning signs of cancer which will provide the basis for the development of new diagnostic tests," Kostarelos said.
The research illustrated for the first time the value and potential of nanoparticle-forming protein coronas in the blood of six patients suffering with advanced stage ovarian carcinoma.
The patients were being treated with nanoparticles (liposomes) that are clinically used to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs.
In another recently published study, the team demonstrated that this tool is very powerful for the discovery of tumour-specific blood biomarkers in tumour-bearing mice.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)