Gold particles show whether a blood sample contains lumps of cancer cells. Gold accumulations light up under the microscope if the blood is from a cancer patient. On the left you see a monster from someone without cancer and on the right one from someone with cancer.
It takes time to determine if someone has cancer. First doctors discover cell changes in the body.
Then they take a sample and examine it to make the diagnosis. There is no method to quickly test the entire body for cancer. But it is coming - based on gold.
Researchers at The University of Queensland in Australia discovered that golden nanoparticles bind to the DNA of cancer cells.
Cancer DNA attracts gold particles
DNA strands contain methyl molecules that determine how active the genes are. With cancer DNA, these molecules clump together, and that attracts gold.
1. Methyl molecules clump together
There are methyl molecules (pink) on DNA strands. With DNA from a healthy cell they are evenly distributed, but with DNA from a cancer cell they accumulate, as you can see with the blue DNA strand.
2. Cancer DNA folds differently
DNA strands from cancer cells do not fold as tightly as DNA from healthy cells, because lumps of methyl molecules prevent this.
3. Gold particles detect cancer
Gold particles (yellow globules) bind to methyl, and they can easily be added to this on cancerous DNA. As a result, gold accumulates in cancer DNA.
Cancer cells attract gold particles
All body cells send DNA fragments into the bloodstream, so a simple blood test can suffice for detecting cancer.
Our DNA strands, which contain the genes, also contain other molecules, such as methyl.
They determine how active the individual genes are.
In normal cells, methyl is evenly distributed across the strand, but in cancer cells it clumps together.
The result is that cancer DNA 'folds up' less tightly than DNA from healthy cells, and therefore gold particles can bind to the methyl.
The cancer DNA attracts many gold particles in this way, and that can be seen with a microscope.
Gold particles show whether a blood sample contains lumps of cancer cells. Gold accumulations light up under the microscope if the blood is from a cancer patient. On the left you see a monster from someone without cancer and on the right one from someone with cancer.© Shutterstock, know ikeda & Abu Ali Sina et al./Nature comm.
Goudtest must first of all check former patients
The gold method has been tested on 200 people, some of whom had cancer.
The cancer was discovered in around 90 percent of them. It will take a while before the test is started.
It will probably first be used to check whether the cancer has returned to treated patients.