There’s a lot of things I can do under 10 minutes. Drink a cup of coffee, brush my teeth, make my bad. All very simple, basic tasks that need to be accomplished everyday.
But, never in my wildest dreams did I think I could use a device that could detect cancer in any part of my body in under 10 minutes!
Cancer is an extremely complicated and variable disease and different types of cancer have different signatures. University of Queensland scientists have been able to identify a unique biomarker that was common in every type of cancer they examined, including prostate, colorectal, lymphoma, and several different forms of breast cancers.
The Australian researchers found that – in a healthy patient – there are tiny molecules called methyl groups that are spread across DNA structures. Since the methyl groups are dramatically affected by the presence of cancer, however, the patterns and clusters of methyl groups will change their formations.
Professor Matt Trau said their 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 color to determine if the 3D nanostructures of cancer DNA are present,” explained Trau. It’s a simple tool that could search and identify these pattern changes within a matter of minutes. “This inexpensive and portable detection device could eventually be used as a diagnostic tool, possibly with a mobile phone.”
The new technology has proved to be up to 90% accurate in tests involving 200 human cancer samples and normal DNA.
If it continues to be successful in clinical trials, the technology could be used alongside smartphones to offer cheap and effective cancer screenings to the masses, especially in rural or undeveloped regions of the world . . . miraculously under 10 minutes!