Early detection of cancer could now be as easy as a simple blood test. Researchers have found that this test may also eliminate the need for some types of biopsies and identify those more likely to develop cancer in the future.
The test, called the “lymphocyte genome sensitivity” (LGS) test, could detect some cancers earlier than ever before, the study noted. “The test could allow earlier cancer detection, helping to save people’s lives,” said co-researcher Diana Anderson from University of Bradford in West Yorkshire, UK.
To develop this test, the researchers took blood samples from a group of people that included healthy individuals, cancer patients and people believed to be at a higher risk than normal to develop cancer. White blood cells (lymphocytes) in these samples were examined in a “comet test,” by embedding the cells in a jelly-like substance, called agar, on a microscope slide.
In this test, damage to the genetic material (DNA) of the cells was caused by treatment with ultraviolet (UVA) light. This damage was observed in the form of DNA pieces being pulled within the agar in an electric field toward the positive end of the field.
This caused a comet-like tail, and the longer the tail the more DNA damage. In cancer patients, DNA-damaged tail responses remained high and in those people who might develop pre-cancerous diseases, tail responses were in between. This means that people with cancer have DNA which is more easily damaged by UVA than other people, so the test shows the sensitivity to damage of all the genome in a cell.
The study appeared in The FASEB Journal.