While further research and development is still underway, the procedure is expected to open new corollaries of screening methods.
It spots tiny amounts of DNA floating through vessels that could only have come from tumors and not from healthy cells.
Researchers have always been looking for a commonality among cancers to develop a diagnostic tool that could apply across all types.
Joyce Ohm, an associate professor of oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, agreed that the work is "an exciting potential advance" in looking for a general epigenetic biomarker for cancer.
As reported by the portal "Znayu" team of microbiologists from the University of John Hopkins have developed a test that detects the presence of chlamydia in 30 minutes.
Dr. Dino Di Carlo, director of cancer nanotechnology at UCLA's cancer center and a bioengineering professor at the Los Angeles university, told USA TODAY that the study needs to be further tested to determine its effectiveness. Instead, they are now just one step in the process. As of 2018, there are more than 200 types of cancer.
About nine in 10 cancer deaths involve a diagnosis that came too late. But if DNA from healthy cells is added, the DNA binds to the particles differently, and turns the water blue.
It is based on a process known as epigenetics - the attachment of a chemical tag known as a methyl group to DNA. These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead affect how cells "read" genes.
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The researchers believe the test is promising, but, unfortunately, it can be used on carefully selected and characterized samples in order to judge its potential usefulness as a diagnostic test. According to Trau, cancer cells released their DNA into blood plasma when they perished.
But on the genomes of cancer cells, methyl groups were positioned in intense clusters at specific locations.
Specifically, the researchers looked for patterns of molecules, called methyl groups, which decorate the DNA.
It appeared in every type of breast cancer they examined and other forms of the disease including prostate and bowel cancer, as well as the blood cancer lymphoma.
Dr. Sina said this "simple test" could be used by a primary care physician.
As a result, the research group has chose to develop an assay, which uses gold nanoparticles that immediately change color when these nanostructures are present.
"This happens in one drop of fluid".
Medical experts say that detecting cancer early increases the likelihood that therapeutic treatment and surgery would be successful.
"This led to the creation of low-priced and portable detection devices that could eventually be used as a diagnostic tool, possibly with a mobile phone", said Trau. "It's not ideal yet, but it's a promising start".