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The test, which is said to easily detect cancer from blood or biopsy tissue, was created by University of Queensland researchers Dr. Abu Sina, Dr. Laura Carrascosa, and professor Matt Trau.

The sign of healthy cells is marked by the patterning of their DNA with molecules called methyl groups.

The researchers also found that when the intense methyl group clusters are placed in solution, they cause fragments of cancer DNA to form 3D nanostructures that adhere to gold.

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Researchers demonstrated that there is a tell-tale pattern of gene expression in cancer genomes which is not found in healthy genomes, allowing them to spot cancer DNA circulating in the blood.

The initial discovery that aided this test was the way in which cancer DNA and normal DNA stick to metal surfaces vary significantly.

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It has been reported that the test works by identifying the presence of the unique DNA structure in the humans, however large-scale trials are still needed to be developed before it can be taken to clinics and used on the prospective patients.

Scientists developed a so-called "universal cancer test" that can detect traces of the disease in the bloodstream of a patient. It could be useful, however, if clinicians might not ever see a patient again in a rural area and need rapid results.

The breakthrough could lead to much earlier detection and increase the chance that treatment works because it could be started before traditional symptoms develop. Like healthy cells, cancer cells are always in the process of dying and renewing.

The test has a sensitivity of about 90%, and this means that it would be able to detect about 90 cases of cancer from 100. This seemingly simple question could be answered by a simple test that looks for just one DNA signature, an epigenetic pattern that emerges in every cancer.

Co-author Professor Matt Trau, from the University of Queensland, said: 'We certainly don't know yet whether it's the Holy Grail for all cancer diagnostics, but it looks really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker of cancer, and as a very accessible and low-priced technology'. In contrast, normal DNA folds in a somewhat different way, which does not result in such a strong affinity for gold, the researchers said.

"We certainly don't know yet whether it's the holy grail for all cancer diagnostics, but it looks really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker of cancer, and as an accessible and cheap technology that doesn't require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing", Trau said.


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