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Simple Blood Test can Detect Cancer

Jul 28, 2014 04:49 PM EDT
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Researchers from the University of Bradford have recently devised a simple "universal" blood test that can be used to diagnose whether people have cancer or not.

So far, the test has successful in accurately diagnosing cancer and pre-cancerous conditions from the blood of patients with melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer, and researchers hope that further study will prove that this method will be useful in detecting other types of cancers as well.

The Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) test looks at white blood cells and measures the damage caused to their DNA when subjected to different intensities of ultraviolet light (UVA), which is known to damage DNA. The results clearly show a difference between the white blood cells from patients with cancer, with pre-cancerous conditions and from healthy patients.

"White blood cells are part of the body's natural defense system. We know that they are under stress when they are fighting cancer or other diseases, so I wondered whether anything measureable could be seen if we put them under further stress with UVA light," lead researcher Diana Anderson, from the University's School of Life Sciences, explained in a statement.

"We found that people with cancer have DNA which is more easily damaged by ultraviolet light than other people, so the test shows the sensitivity to damage of all the DNA - the genome - in a cell," she added.

Blood samples were taken from 208 individuals, 94 of them healthy and 114 of them collected from patients referred to specialist clinics within Bradford Royal Infirmary prior to diagnosis and treatment.

The way the test works is it finds UVA damage in the form of pieces of DNA being pulled in an electric field towards the positive end of the field, causing a comet-like tail. In the LGS test, a longer tail menat more DNA damage there was, indicating cancer.

"These are early results completed on three different types of cancer and we accept that more research needs to be done; but these results so far are remarkable," Anderson said.

This test is revolutionary in that it will enable doctors to detect cancer without having to go through timely and expensive diagnosing procedures, such as biopsies and colonoscopies. University of Bradford researchers hope to use this test one day to diagnose colorectal cancer as well.

Their findings were published on July 28 in The FASEB Journal.

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