Novel Universal blood test for faster cancer detection
UK researchers have developed a novel blood test that could be the first screening tool to diagnose cancer in patients under suspicion of the disease, report a new study published in the journal FASEB BioAdvances.
The test measures the damage to the DNA of white blood cells when subjected to different intensities of ultraviolet (UV) light, revealing measurable differences in the cells' susceptibility to further damage in patients with cancer. The damage forms a 'comet tail' of DNA pieces that are pulled towards the positive end of an electric field. The longer the comet tail, the more DNA damage is present, which correlates with the presence of cancer.
This test is different from other universal cancer tests being developed because it is not looking for a specific biomarker or mutation,” lead Bradford researcher Dr. Diana Anderson said in a press release. “This is a generic test for cancer in an individual, regardless of the underlying mechanism that’s causing their cancer.”
"We feel that we've taken it as far as we can in proving that the test works with high predictability for cancer outcome, and IMSTAR are the right partners to improve it still further," said co-first author Dr. Mojgan Najafzadeh from the University of Bradford.
In 2014, Bradford researchers showed they could identify which samples were from patients with three different types of cancer with 93 percent success. That included those who had yet to be diagnosed.
But in two recent clinical trials of more than 700 blood samples from 598 colorectal and prostate cancer patients, as well as 102 healthy people, they were unable to distinguish those with cancer from healthy patients in 60 cases. Also, further breast and lung cancer samples couldn’t be distinguished.
The researchers have partnered with IMSTAR, a privately owned company based in Paris.IMSTAR has now coupled the innovative technology developed at Bradford with their fully-automated Pathfinder™ cell reader-analyzer to create a powerful and robust test for early detection, called TumorScan™.
Diana Anderson asked IMSTAR, to reanalyze the inconclusive slides to determine whether scoring more cells on the slides would explain this 'challenging subgroup.
The Bradford, UK team researchers had scored 100 cells per slide, but the Pathfinder™ system is able to analyze up to 10,000 cells per slide and uses Artificial Intelligence concepts in its proprietary software.
Scoring a minimum of 2,000 cells per slide, the IMSTAR Pathfinder™ system was able to separate all individuals of the cancer group from the healthy control group with confirmed statistical significance.
"I'm now convinced that if we used the powerful IMSTAR system to look at thousands of cells on all the slide samples in the trials, we would see a significant increase in the overall predictability beyond the original 93 percent of the original 2014 study,” said Anderson.
According to Dr. Francoise Soussaline, IMSTAR president, a number of criteria must be achieved to bring a universal liquid biopsy blood test for cancer to market including high sensitivity and specificity and be fully automated with high throughput for a medical routine use. Moreover, test results must be available in 24hrs and at an affordable cost.