DNA test can detect 18 early stage cancer , scientists say

DNA cancer

DNA cancer

Scientists have achieved a significant breakthrough by devising a straightforward DNA test capable of identifying 18 early-stage cancer , marking a potential paradigm shift in the medical landscape. Cancer, responsible for one in six global deaths, underscores the critical importance of early detection for improved outcomes. Existing screening methods face challenges such as invasiveness, cost, and limited accuracy in identifying early-stage diseases.

A team of researchers from the US biotech firm Novelna has developed a test that scrutinizes proteins in the blood, successfully detecting 18 early-stage cancers across major human organs. While blood proteins have previously shown promise for early detection and monitoring, existing tests lacked the required sensitivity and specificity. The Novelna team asserts that their DNA cancer test outperforms alternatives relying on tumor DNA in the blood, demonstrating superior sensitivity compared to the Galleri test undergoing NHS trials in the UK.

Cancer Samples

By scrutinizing proteins in blood plasma, the researchers could distinguish cancer samples from normal ones and even differentiate between various types of cancers with high accuracy. The study, published in BMJ Oncology, indicates that cancer protein signals are likely to exhibit sex-specific characteristics.

In their publication, the team emphasized, “This finding is the foundation for a multi-cancer screening test for the early detection of 18 solid tumors that cover all major human organs of origin for such cancers at the earliest stage of their development with high accuracy.” They envision integrating this plasma test into routine check-ups, potentially reshaping screening guidelines.

The team collected blood plasma samples from 440 individuals diagnosed with 18 different types of cancer and 44 healthy blood donors. By identifying proteins indicative of early-stage cancers and their origin with high accuracy, the researchers achieved a breakthrough. Notably, their sex-specific localization panels, comprising 150 proteins, successfully identified the tissue of origin for most cancers in over 80% of cases.

Despite the promising results, the researchers acknowledged the need for further studies in larger cohorts due to their relatively small sample size. Dr. Mangesh Thorat from the Centre for Cancer Prevention at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine stressed the necessity for more extensive research and raised questions about the test’s efficacy.

While acknowledging the significance of the findings, Prof. Paul Pharoah, a cancer epidemiology expert at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, urged caution, stating, “While the results show some promise, it is far too soon to be confident that this test will turn out to be useful for early cancer detection.” The development of a simple, highly sensitive, and specific blood test for early cancer detection remains an elusive goal, but this study offers a glimpse into a potentially transformative advancement in the field.

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