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UK Team Claims Breakthrough In Universal Cancer Test 63

An anonymous reader writes UK researchers say they've devised a simple blood test that can be used to diagnose whether people have cancer or not. The Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) test looks at white blood cells and measures the damage caused to their DNA when subjected to different intensities of ultraviolet light (UVA), which is known to damage DNA. The results of the empirical study show a distinction between the damage to the white blood cells from patients with cancer, with pre-cancerous conditions and from healthy patients. "Whilst the numbers of people we tested are, in epidemiological terms, quite small (208), in molecular epidemiological terms, the results are powerful," said the team's lead researcher. "We've identified significant differences between the healthy volunteers, suspected cancer patients and confirmed cancer patients of mixed ages at a statistically significant level .... This means that the possibility of these results happening by chance is 1 in 1000." The research is published online in the FASEB Journal, the U.S. Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
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UK Team Claims Breakthrough In Universal Cancer Test

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  • by kaliann ( 1316559 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @12:42AM (#47555189)

    This could be a giant step forward in cancer diagnostics, but media reports are - of course - sensationalizing beyond evidence.

    In the study, the types of tumors tested share some similarities that might mean findings true of them would not be true of "all cancers". Specifically, none of the lesions tested were tumors of mesenchymal origin. No sarcomas, no fibromas, no leukemias. That's a broad range to not examine, and it means that generalizing this as a test for "all cancers" is premature. Additionally, none of the tumors tested were types that tend to show up in places that lymphocytes have trouble getting to (like the brain, eye, and portions of the reproductive tract).

    It is good that they tested against COPD (a chronic inflammatory condition), but it does not appear as if they could distinguish between less-aggressive tumors and inflammatory conditions (I can't tell for sure because of the paywall). It may be that this is a test that is a good indicator of chronic inflammation (seen in many cancers as well as other conditions) rather than a cancer-specific test.

    Regardless of the limitations of the preliminary sample set, the findings are very exciting and a potentially amazing discovery in cancer medicine. Kudos to the hardworking scientists involved!

  • Re:So... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Edis Krad ( 1003934 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @01:09AM (#47555267)
    From TFA

    The University of Bradford has filed patents for the technology and a spin-out company, Oncascan, has been established to commercialise the research.

    And they already have a website [oncascan.com] running.

    I'd say under 5 years before we start seeing this applied in the wild.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?