Imagine if a simple blood test could identify if you had one of multiple different types of cancer? This kind of diagnostic test would be a major breakthrough and is something that researchers are actively working towards. It is now being reported that a team in Japan may well be on the cusp of doing so.
Scientists based out of Tokyo’s National Cancer Center Japan have apparently developed a new blood test that can diagnose up to 13 different types of cancer. As yet, there doesn’t seem to be any detailed clinical trial, but the researchers have been given the go-ahead by the center's research and ethics screening committee to start a new study, and they now await approval from the government.
According to The Japan News, the test is successfully able to detect 13 different kinds of cancer, ranging from cancer that affects the stomach, breast, colorectal, and even bone and soft tissue tumors. They state that the test has been used to accurately diagnose cancer in 40,000 frozen blood samples taken from cancer sufferers.
The researchers say it utilizes small non-coding RNA molecules, known as miRNA, to detect cancer cells that are present in the bloodstream. The idea of using bits of cancer cells floating in the blood is not a novel one, as in order to grow the cancer needs a healthy supply of blood and inevitably bits of the tumor will break off and get circulated. The idea of using miRNA to find them is also not novel.
According to the reports, however, there are currently no diagnostic tests that can detect multiple types of cancer, which means that if this blood test gets approval from the government, it would be a big step towards making one readily available to the general public.
At this stage, it is important to stress again that there are currently no clinical trials on the accuracy of the tests in the real world. This is what the Japanese team are currently working towards getting approval for. They themselves note that the results from earlier research may have been altered by the freezing process, not to mention the fact that the samples were all taken from known cancer patients.
If this diagnostic test is proven to be successful, and most importantly accurate, it could be a massive change for how we test for cancer in the future.