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Cancer Watch

Times of India
02 June 2010
London, UK

New blood test can detect cancer before it spreads
A simple blood test that can detect a cancer before a tumour has taken shape has been developed by British scientists.

Described as offering a "paradigm shift" in cancer diagnosis, the test due to be introduced in Britain by early next year is the first to identify accurately the signals sent out by a person’s immune system as a cancer germinates.

According to the research, such signals can be detected up to five years before a tumour is spotted, priming doctors to intervene at the earliest moment when a solid cancer appears, the Times reported on Tuesday.

Brainchild of scientists at the University of Nottingham though a spinout company called Oncimmune, the technology works by identifying how the immune system responds to the first molecular signs of cancer development.

The test works by identifying how the immune system responds to the first molecular signs of cancer growth.

Cancerous cells produce small amounts of protein material called antigens which prompts the immune system to produce large amounts of autoantibodies. Scientists can now follow this activity with just 10ml of a patent’s blood sample.

John Robertson, a breast cancer specialist who led the research, said: "The earliest cancer we have seen is a cancer that has been screen detected, and yet biologically that’s late in the road of cancer development.

"We are starting to understand carcinogenesis in a way that we have never seen before — seeing which proteins are going wrong, and how the immune system responds. It’s as if your body is shouting ‘I’ve got cancer’ way before a tumour can be detected." ANI

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