(WSVN) - Cancer researchers say their new blood test can detect cancer, and pinpoint where in the body a tumor is growing.
Bioengineers at the University of California San Diego published their findings March 6, saying their study could help diagnose cancer early on without invasive biopsy procedures.
“Knowing the tumor’s location is critical for effective early detection,” said Kun Zhang, a bioengineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, in a statement.
Zhang said their discovery came as a surprise to all of the researchers.
“We made this discovery by accident. Initially, we were taking the conventional approach and just looking for cancer cell signals and trying to find out where they were coming from,” Zhang said. “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.”
Traditional tests look for DNA released by dying tumor cells. However, they do not tell doctors where the tumor is located in the body. But Zhang’s method involves looking at the DNA released by dying normal cells, since tumors grow by killing off healthy cells. The DNA released by those normal cells could then identify the affected tissue in the body where the tumor is growing.
The researchers said their test works like a dual authentication process by looking at DNA released both by tumor cells and normal cells. They said the next step is to move the blood test to clinical trials.
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