A simple blood test has been developed that can accurately detect the beginning stages of breast and lung cancer.
The test can detect breast cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer, the most common type of lung cancer, before symptoms like coughing and weight loss start and the developers anticipate testing for the early stages of pancreatic cancer shortly.
The test developed by scientists at Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS, USA) works by detecting increased enzyme activity in the body. A dye and iron nanoparticles coated with amino acids are introduced to small amounts of blood or urine from a patient. The amino acids and dye interact with enzymes in the patient''s urine or blood sample. Each type of cancer produces a specific enzyme pattern, or signature, that can be identified by doctors. Once the test is administered, comprehensive results, which include enzyme patterns, are produced in approximately one hour
The scientists evaluated the test''s accuracy on 32 separate participants in various stages of breast or lung cancer. Data was collected from 20 people with breast cancer, whose age ranged from 36 to 81 years, and 12 people with lung cancer, ranging in age from 27 to 63 years. Twelve people without cancer were also tested as a control group. This group ranged in age from 26 to 62 years. A blood sample from each participant was tested three times. Analysis of the data showed a 95% success rate in detecting cancer in participants, including those with breast cancer in stages 0 and 1 and those with lung cancer in stages 1 and 2.
In addition to early detection, the scientists say the test can be tweaked to monitor the cancer’s progression or regression. For example, patients being treated with drugs can be observed for drug effectiveness. Similarly, doctors can use the dye in the test to determine if the entirety of a tumor has been successfully removed from a patient after surgery. The team has designed a second testing method that is anticipated to produce the same results in about five minutes.
Stefan Bossmann, PhD, a professor of chemistry at Kansas State University, said, “These enzyme patterns can also help distinguish between cancer and an infection or other diseases that commonly occur in the human body. For example, a person who smokes a lot of cigars may develop an inflammation in their lungs. That will drive up some of the markers in the test but not all of them. Doctors will be able to see whether there was too much smoke inhalation or if there is something more serious going on. False-positives are something that we really want to avoid."