Cancer has always been the bogeyman of all diseases. It is unequivocally one of the worst and most dreaded diagnoses a patient can get. The scariest aspect of this illness for most of us is that it can stay dormant for some time before starting to manifest itself and show symptoms. And we’ve all heard it before, the earlier you detect your cancer the better are your chances of beating it.
The problem though, has always been the difficulty in detecting cancer without a proper and often costly test, making most people vulnerable to a tumor that only gets detected once the patient starts noticing unusual symptoms.
However, a new test that’s currently being researched at the VU Medical Center in Amsterdam could greatly improve our chances of detecting cancer through a single drop of blood.
If successfully developed, the test could potentially allow oncology professionals to detect the presence of cancer and even its location or type with the equivalent of one drop of blood. The test will put cell fragments called platelets under the microscope. These fragments are one of the most common cells in our blood. Their normal function is to help with healing wounds as well as clotting to prevent severe hemorrage. However, when a cell becomes cancerous, platelets can turn against the host and potentially accelerate cancer’s progress.
The test was initially thought out when Thomas Wurdinger and his team found out that the rogue platelets contain RNA that comes from tumors. These RNA sequences are unique to each tumor they come from which makes them easy identifiers of the type of cancer in question.
With a very small quantity of blood taken from around 300 subjects. They found that the distinction can be made between cancer patients and healthy ones with 96% accuracy using this method. They also found that the type of tumour can be detected with 71% accuracy.
This doesn’t make the test ready for public use yet, but it is definitely promising according to Wurdinger himself, who foresees that the test could be commercialized in the next decade.