Development of potential ‘universal’ cancer blood test

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A simple blood test that could be used to diagnose different types of cancer and erase the requirement for unnecessary invasive surgical procedures has been developed by British researchers.

The test will allow doctors to eliminate cancer in patients with particular symptoms, thus saving valuable time and eliminating the need for unnecessary invasive procedures, such as biopsies and colonoscopies.

Researchers from the University of Bradford state that early results obtained from the tests have indicated a high level of accuracy in the diagnosis of pre-cancerous conditions and cancer in patients suffering from lung cancer, colon cancer and melanoma.

The Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) test assesses the white blood cells and measures the amount of damage which has been caused to the DNA when subjected to varying intensities of ultraviolet light (UVA). Ultraviolet light has been known to damage DNA.

The study results indicate a clear distinction between the damage to white blood cells from cancer patients, those with pre-cancerous conditions and patients who are healthy.

The leader of the research from the University’s School of Life Sciences, Professor Diana Anderson, said that white blood cells form part of the natural defence system of the body. The researchers were aware that the cells are placed under stress when fighting cancer or other diseases. This prompted the researchers to test if UVA light would place them under more stress.

Anderson said the results indicated that cancer patients have DNA which is more prone to damage by UVA light than other people, which indicates sensitivity to damage of all the DNA present in a cell.

The study involved the assessment of blood samples from 208 individuals.

It included 94 healthy individuals from the students and staff at the University of Bradford and 114 blood samples which were collected from patients who had been referred to specialist clinics within Bradford Royal Infirmary before their diagnosis and treatment.

The researchers anonymised, coded and randomised the samples before exposing it to UVA light.

The damage caused by the UVA was observed in the form of parts of the DNA being pulled in an electric field toward the positive side of the field, which caused a comet-like tail.

During this test, there was more damage the longer the tail and the measurements were in line with 58 patients who were eventually diagnosed with cancer, 56 who had pre-cancerous conditions and 94 who were healthy.

The research has been published in FASEB Journal.

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Robert Wiltshire

Robert is a part-time writer and enjoys screen writing when his schedule allows. A keen writer, Robert graduated in 2002 from Warwick University with a 2:1 in Creative Writing. Hobbies include; Mountain Biking, Keeping Fit and Cooking

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