According to a new study from the University of California, San Diego, a universal blood test for any type of cancer may soon become available. This study shows that a new way has been found to detect cancer in the blood that could both alert doctors to the presence of cancer, and tell them where in the body the tumor is being located.
The new study, published online in the Nature Genetics journal, describes the discovery of a new clue found in the blood. Although the discovery is still in its preliminary stage, the team hopes to soon advance to the clinical stage where it can be tested. If the testing proceeds as hoped, it could make cancer diagnosis faster and more effective.
The study senior author, Kun Zhang, made it known that the discovery was made by accident. But the team was also seeing signals from other cells and realized that if they integrated both sets of signals together, they could actually determine the presence or absence of a tumor, and where the growth of the tumor is.
“We made this discovery by accident, but we were also seeing signals from other cells and realized that if we integrate both sets of signals together, we could actually determine the presence or absence of a tumor, and where the tumor is growing”
Researchers put together a database of the complete CpG methylation patterns of 10 different normal tissues (liver, intestine, colon, lung, brain, kidney, pancreas, spleen, stomach and blood). They analysed tumor samples and blood samples from cancer patients to put together a database of cancer-specific genetic markers.
Blood samples from individuals with and without tumors were screened. They looked for signals of the cancer markers and the tissue-specific methylation patterns. The test works like a dual authentication process. The combination of both signals, above a statistical cutoff, is required to assign a positive match, researchers said.