Scientists have developed a simple, cheap test for cancer that is 90 percent accurate. The test holds promise for early detection – a particularly troublesome problem with mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma can take up to 50 years after exposure to develop, leaving those who have worked with products containing asbestos to wonder for years if they will develop cancer. The problem is worse for people who don’t know they’ve been exposed to asbestos and live for years unaware of the cancer growing in the linings of their organs.
While there is no cure for mesothelioma, early treatment is essential for any hope of controlling the cancer.
How the test works
The quick, cheap cancer screening test is based on the knowledge that DNA in healthy cells sticks to gold molecules differently than DNA in cancer cells. By extracting DNA from tissue samples and placing it in water mixed with gold nanoparticles, the DNA from cancer cells will stick to the gold and the water will retain its original, pinkish color. If the DNA is healthy, it binds to the gold differently and turns the water blue. The test is sensitive enough that the color changes can be seen with the naked eye.
Using this test is cheap, non-invasive and doesn’t require a hospital stay. It also takes only about 10 minutes.
Many uses, promising future
It has successfully been used to detect breast, prostate, bowel and lymphoma cancers. Researchers are confident the test can be replicated across other cancers, including mesothelioma.
The 10-minute cancer test will soon undergo clinical trials.
In addition to early identification of cancers, researchers also hope the test will differentiate between early and late stages of cancer. They also hope it can be used to determine how cancers respond to treatment which will allow doctors to quickly and easily adjust treatment