Scientists introduce a “holy grail” blood test that can discover cancer long before symptoms begin to show.
In this innovative medical diagnosis, Scientists from UC Santa Cruz found a protein released in the early stages of cancer. The protein alters a patient’s “dark matter”, which creates a biomarker — a biological molecule found in the blood — that doctors can spot.
However, the new blood test, known as “liquid biopsy”, can diagnose cancer through a simple screening test. The test can find chemical changes in the bloodstream.
“The sooner you detect that someone has cancer, the more likely they will be to survive through treatment and surgery,” said Daniel Kim, Assistant Professor of Biomolecular Engineering, in a media release. “Millions of people die from cancer every year around the world, and there is an urgent need to develop highly sensitive and specific diagnostic tests that enable cancer early detection before it has spread to other parts of the body.”
The KRAS gene is the most mutated across all cancers and can be a “driver” that eventually leads to cancer formation. The gene is typically responsible for regulating RNA, molecules that “translate” instructions in our DNA.
To conduct the research, scientists introduced mutant KRAS genes into healthy lung cells, pushing them into a cancerous state. Then they used various methods to perform RNA sequencing. The study found that computer simulations identified widespread RNA compared to control cells.
In the future, the Kim Lab aims to analyze blood samples from lung cancer patients to validate whether their newly identified RNA signatures are present in the patients.
The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.