Cancer is a major health problem in Australia – As many as half of all Australians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer by the time they’re 85.

But finding out if you have cancer isn’t simple.

Current methods of testing are slow & can be costly, relying on you or your doctor to notice symptoms first & often require an invasive biopsy to determine whether you have cancer.

Scientists at the University of Queensland think they have found a simpler test that detects the presence of cancer DNA in a patient’s bloodstream. All this was made possible by the discovery that cancer DNA reacts differently to normal DNA when exposed to metal.

The researchers insert the suspect DNA into a solution of water & gold nanoparticles. The solution appears pink in colour. If the DNA is cancerous, the water stays the same. But if the DNA is healthy, then the water turns blue.

The test has been shown to be 90% accurate, ie detecting 90 out of 100 cases of cancer. It only takes about 10 minutes, is not invasive & is much cheaper than current alternatives. The test would serve as an initial check for cancer, with follow up tests to determine the cancer type and stage.

Further clinical trials are planned to include a broader range of cancer types, and tests need to be conducted outside the lab to see if they stand up to the outside world.  But if developed into a common diagnostic tool, the future looks promising in our battle to beat this killer disease.

Last Reviewed: 12/12/2018

myDr