Washington: A new study has found that a blood test could help determine if a person had or was at risk of developing cancer.
The test, called the "lymphocyte genome sensitivity" (LGS) test, could not only detect some cancers earlier than ever before, but might eliminate the need for some types of biopsies, as well as identify those more likely to develop cancer in the future.
To develop the test, Diana Anderson from the University of Bradford and colleagues took blood samples from a group of people that included healthy individuals, cancer patients and people believed to be at a higher risk than normal to develop cancer. White blood cells (lymphocytes) in these samples were examined in a Comet test, by embedding the cells in a jelly-like substance, called agar, on a microscope slide.
In this test, damage to the genetic material (DNA) of the cells was caused by treatment with ultraviolet (UVA) light. This damage was observed in the form of DNA pieces being pulled within the agar in an electric field toward the positive end of the field. This caused a comet-like tail, and the longer the tail the more DNA damage. Different thicknesses of the agar were applied to the slides.
In healthy people, as different thicknesses were added, DNA-damaged tail responses returned to normal levels. In cancer patients, DNA-damaged tail responses remained high and in those people who might develop pre-cancerous diseases, tail responses were in between.
This meant that people with cancer have DNA which was more easily damaged by UVA than do other people, so the test shows the sensitivity to damage of all the genome in a cell. The LGS test had been used to examine blood samples from cancer patients with melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer, and all gave the same outcomes.
The study is published in The FASEB Journal