Though their ultimate goal is finding a cure for malignant mesothelioma, if you were to ask researchers for a single tool that would help them more effectively treat mesothelioma patients they would likely ask for a fast and reliable diagnostic test. Australian researchers may have taken us one step closer to that goal, as a group from the University of Queensland have discovered that when cancer cells are placed in water that has been combined with gold particles, they act in a highly specific way. This could lead to much faster diagnosis, especially for those who are at known risk for mesothelioma based on their history of exposure to asbestos.
Water-Based Test Relies on Known Cancer Cell Characteristics
The key to how this new mesothelioma-detecting technology works lies in the way that cancers of all types modifies the genetic code of the cells that it impacts. One specific type of modification involves groups of methyl molecules, whose addition or subtraction from a cell activates or deactivates genetic code. Where healthy cells contain diffuse groups of methyl molecules, cells that have been infiltrated by cancer tend to group together. The newly-created diagnostic test relies on this, and specifically examines the way that this type of clustering can be more easily detected when the cells are immersed in water. The researchers found that cancer-affected cells fold into three-dimensional forms when placed in water, and when gold particles are included in the liquid the three-dimensional cancerous cells will adhere to them. Additionally, when the process includes gold particles in the water, the combination of cancer cells, water and gold ends with the water remaining its original pink color. By contrast, cells that are healthy remain flat, and the water, gold and cell combination turns the water blue. The color differential is both visible to the naked eye in less than five minutes, and an extremely sensitive test: the color change occurs even when very low levels of cancerous genetic material is added to the solution.
Water-Based Test Offers Numerous Benefits
The advantages offered to mesothelioma patients by this test are numerous: it requires only a small tissue or blood sample and no expensive laboratory equipment. It is highly portable and can be done both quickly and inexpensively. Best of all, tests conducted by the Australian researchers revealed that it has a 90% accuracy rate on numerous types of cancers, and though it has not yet been tested on mesothelioma, they believe that when it is it will be just as successful, as the asbestos-related cancer shares many of the same methyl molecule characteristics as other cancers. The researchers expect to begin clinical testing of the early diagnostic tool soon.
Those at a known risk for mesothelioma live in a constant state of fear and dread, but an effective early diagnostic test could make a significant change in the treatment options available and their chances of longer survival times. If you need information on any of the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.