New blood tests ‘to detect gastrointestinal cancers’

New blood tests ‘to detect gastrointestinal cancers’

London: Scientists have developed two new blood tests which they claim will make detection of gastrointe -stinal cancers simpler, cost-effective and more acceptable to patients than the existing methods.

In the first research, a team led by Joost Louwagie of Beligium-based OncoMethylome Sciences collected blood samples before surgery from 193 patients having colorectal cancer, and from 688 controls undergoing colonoscopy for cancer screening.

DNA was extracted from the blood plasma and tested for the presence of DNA methylation — that’s linked to initiation and progression of tumours — of specific genes.

The scientists then evaluated the best-performing methylated genes in blood samples, with the ultimate goal of providing a sensitive, specific and patient-friendly option for colorectal cancer screening.

“This test has potential to provide a better balance of performance, cost-effectiveness and patient compliance than options currently available for colorectal cancer screening.

“We optimised the methods of DNA extraction and methylation detection so that we could detect low levels of methylated genes in people with colorectal cancer, and we were able to find a high frequency of two newly methylation genes, SYNE1 and FOXE1, in colorectal cancer patients.

“The same methylation genes occurred infrequently in non-cancerous individuals," Louwagie said.

Team member and CSIRO Exploration & Mining scientist Rob Hough said the search for the meteorite was helped by the fact the Nullarbor Plain is marked by white limestone rocks.

“So a dark meteorite on the white surface is easier to find, however it’s very tiny, so the discovery is still really quite amazing. This particular meteorite is very interesting because of its rarity. It is an achondrite — a basalt — with a composition that suggest an asteroid from the inner asteroid belt," Hough said.

According to the astronomers, the all sky cam network had been an extremely successful project and had spotted many fireballs.

“The Plain is very difficult place to have technology like the cameras and the fieldwork to find the meteorite is not trivial. The logistics are a really important aspect of a project like this and it takes a lot of planning to make it work," he said.