Washington: In what may pave the way for
personalised treatment for cancer patients, scientists claim
to have developed a blood test which can detect even a single
tumour cell that could lead to the disease.
A team in Boston, which has developed the test, says
that studies using the experimental test will start this year,
with support from global healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson,
before it`s being marketed worldwide.
According to the scientists, the test could detect
many types of cancer, mainly breast, prostate, colon and lung.
"This is like a liquid biopsy that avoids painful
tissue sampling and may give a better way to monitor patients
than periodic imaging scans," the media quoted Daniel Haber,
the chief of Massachusetts General Hospital`s cancer center
and one of the test`s inventors.
According to the scientists, the blood test uses a
microchip that resembles a laboratory slide covered in 78,000
tiny posts, like bristles on hairbrush, coated with antibodies
which bind to tumour cells.
When blood is forced across the chip, cells ping off
the posts like balls in a pinball machine. The cancer cells
stick, and stains make them glow so researchers can count and
capture them for study, say the scientists.
"The test can find one cancer cell in a billion or
more healthy cells," said Mehmet Toner, a Harvard University
bioengineer who helped design it.
The findings have been published in the latest edition
of the `Nature` journal.