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New test can detect all types of cancer within minutes

Press Trust of India  |  Melbourne 

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

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

is an and different types of have different signatures.

It had been difficult to find a simple signature that was distinct from healthy cells and common to all

"This unique nano-scaled DNA signature appeared in every type of we examined, and in other forms of cancer including prostate, colorectal and lymphoma," said Abu Sina, from University of

"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

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 at University of

The team discovered that intense clusters of methyl groups placed in a solution caused cancer DNA fragments to fold into unique three-dimensional nanostructures that could easily be separated by sticking to solid surfaces such as gold.

"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 a

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 non-invasively in any tissue type including blood.

"This led to the creation of inexpensive and 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 samples and normal DNA.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, December 06 2018. 13:15 IST