New blood test for early cancer detection developed

February 21, 2012

A simple blood test is being developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva, Israel that may provide early detection of many types of cancer.

Prof. Kapelushnik of BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences and his team developed a device that illuminates with less than a teaspoon of blood. The test uses infrared light to detect miniscule changes in the blood of a person who has a cancerous growth somewhere, even before the disease has spread. Various molecules released into the bloodstream cause it to absorb slightly differently compared to that of healthy people.

In the latest clinical trial with 200 patients and a control group, the test identified specific cancers in 90 percent of the patients and found other , as well. The researchers are focused on detection of common cancers, such as lung and .

Doctors believe that it is critical to increase in early stages to prevent the need for long, difficult and costly treatments in more advanced stages.

"This is still research in the early stages of clinical trials," clarifies Prof. Joseph Kapelushnik, who is also head of the Department of Pediatric Hemato-Oncology at Soroka hospital. "But the purpose is to develop an efficient, cheap and simple method to detect as many types of cancers as possible. We want to be able to detect cancer while a patient is still feeling good, before it has a chance to metastasize, meaning fewer treatments, less suffering and many more lives saved."

More clinical trials will be conducted in the next 18 months.

Explore further: Detecting lung cancer early

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