Will there ever be a universal test to detect cancer?

(Yasemin Saplakoglu/ Live Science) — Cancer is over one hundred different diseases hiding under one name. That’s why, just as there isn’t one universal way to treat cancer, there also isn’t one universal way to detect it.

But that doesn’t mean scientists aren’t trying: If researchers can find a unique signature or “biomarker” of cancer — meaning a characteristic that all cancerous cells share but healthy cells do not — they may be able to create a simple test to detect it.

One unique cancer biomarker could be DNA.

Of course, DNA isn’t something that’s unique to cancer cells — every cell in the body has it. But according to a team of researchers from Australia, cancer DNA takes on a different structure than healthy DNA, and that’s something scientists could target.

That was the premise of a paper that the team published last December in Nature Communications. They found that because of its unique shape, DNA from cancer cells bound tightly to gold nanoparticles, whereas the DNA from healthy cells did not. (…)

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