The end of weeks of waiting for important test results? Experts find faster way to recognize cancer and heart disease…
- CrisprZyme test was developed by researchers from UK, USA and Germany
- It uses similar technology to Covid tests to detect small proteins in body fluids
- These proteins, called biomarkers, may be signs of cancer or heart disease
- Current tests must be sent to a temperature-controlled lab to work properly
- CrisprZyme developers hope it can lead to faster diagnosis at a GP practice
Hard-to-detect cancers and heart disease can be detected faster thanks to a new test.
Researchers hope the technology will prevent patients from waiting days or weeks for blood tests coming back from labs.
Instead, they think their system could one day be rolled out directly in GP practices.
Current tests for cancer and heart disease, available on the NHS, look for disease in the blood and urine.
These search samples for certain ‘biomarkers’, substances that can indicate disease.
For example, high levels of a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) can sometimes serve as a sign of cancer in men.
Meanwhile, troponin tests can detect if a patient has had a heart attack.
The new test, called CrisprZyme, works the same way.
Scientists at Imperial College London have discovered a new test that analyzes body fluids such as blood for proteins that could indicate a patient has cancer or a heart condition that could one day skip the need for lab analysis and yield results in the office of a family doctor (stock image)
However, it skips the timely amplification process – replicating a sample enough times that the tiniest traces of substances can be detected.
Rather than sending samples to a lab to look for biomarkers, CrisprZyme simply gives results by changing color if a particular chemical is present — like a litmus test.
A darker color would theoretically indicate more of the fabric.
Lead author Professor Molly Stevens, from Imperial College London, said: ‘Our test, like others, indicates when a biomarker is present.
‘But CrisprZyme is a simpler diagnosis than the current one.
“What also sets it apart is that it can tell us how much biomarker is present, which can help us not only diagnose a disease, but also track its progress over time and in response to treatment.” ‘
Fellow researcher Dr Marta Broto adds: ‘This technology can not only increase our access to diagnostics in developing countries, but also bring us one step closer to personalized diagnostics at home or in the GP practice.
“By making clinical diagnostic testing easier, we can provide clinicians with the right tools to test at the same GP practice instead of having to reschedule for follow-up analyzes and blood work.”
The results have been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Doctors warn NHS focus on urinary symptoms could hamper prostate cancer diagnosis
An NHS focus on male urinary tract symptoms could hamper efforts to detect prostate cancer early, doctors warn.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge said there is “no evidence of a causal relationship” between prostate cancer and prostate size or difficulty urinating.
However, official health advice often promotes this link, which can give men a false sense of security, the experts add.
They want to raise awareness that the disease may have no symptoms in its early stages and say more men should sign up for tests.
The main symptom given on the NHS prostate cancer website is ‘having to urinate more often, often at night’, followed by ‘need to go to the toilet quickly’ and ‘difficulty starting to urinate’.
Researchers argue that the “strong public perception” that urinary tract symptoms in men are a key indicator of prostate cancer “could seriously hamper efforts to encourage early presentation.”