A simple finger prick will help detect cancer, soon

There is going to be an easy way to help detect cancer soon. All that would be needed is a  simple finger prick blood test.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney have discovered the use of nanoparticles to trace the levels of micro RNA in a blood sample. They use nanoparticles to latch on to the targeted microRNAs (miRNAs) which will enable them to be easily extracted.

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One of the main benefits of the test, as stated by the researchers, was that it was effective even with minuscule amount of miRNA in the blood sample.

RNAs are genetic material used to synthesize proteins. Impaired miRNA activity or very low levels of microRNA in blood has been linked with the formation of cancerous tumours as well as metastasis – the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.

In a paper published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers reported modifying gold-coated magnetic nanoparticles with DNA to match the miRNA they wanted to detect.

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UNSW Professor Justin Gooding said the nanoparticles are practically dispersible electrodes. They are circulated through the blood, where they capture the miRNA after which a magnet is then used to recapture the nanoparticles with the attached microRNA.

“Now we get more of the microRNA because the dispersible electrodes capture nearly everything in the sample,” Professor Gooding said. “Because the capture is so effective, we get higher sensitivities and can detect much lower limits.”, he added.

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The new method, besides being comparatively quicker, would be cheaper too. “Our method takes 30 minutes compared with almost 12 hours for quantitative polymerase chain reaction,” Professor Gooding said.

The technology is estimated to be available within 3 years, said Professor Gooding. It is pending regulatory approvals.

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