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Cancer Researchers Report Ability to Detect Cancer at Earliest, Curable Stage


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Researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego report that they have developed a new method for detecting cancer very early in its development, when it consists of just a few cells. The best existing detection methods are not able to detect a tumor until it consists of about one million cells. The paper*, published in the April 18 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE, describes a series of proof-of-concept experiments in which the researchers, working with two cancer cell lines, were able to select out and amplify tiny amounts of cancer-causing DNA in the presence of more than 99.9 percent of normal DNA. Current methods for identifying deleted DNA would not work in clinical settings because they require isolation of relatively pure cancer cells. This is not feasible for clinical samples, which typically contain large amounts of the person’s normal cells. “We have developed a new technology for very early detection of virtually any type of solid-tumor cancer based upon damaged DNA, which is where all cancers begin,” said co-author Dennis A. Carson, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the Moores Cancer Center. “We are now working with engineers toward the fabrication of the clinical devices that will enable this to be widely used in patients.”

 

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