Breakthrough as blood test spots cancer seven years earlier – and could help prevent it

Hospital phlebotomist collecting blood sample from patient in lab

A new type of blood test will measure proteins in the blood to help detect cancer (Picture: Getty)

A major breakthrough could allow cancer to be detected seven years earlier than it is today using a simple blood test.

Researchers hope in future it could not only allow earlier detection and treatment, but could help prevent the disease altogether.

Two Cancer Research UK-funded studies have discovered proteins in the blood that could warn people of cancer long before current diagnosis allows.

Oxford University scientists identified 618 proteins linked to 19 different types of cancer, including 107 proteins in a group of people whose blood was collected at least seven years before diagnosis.

The research team have discovered the proteins could be involved at the very earliest stages of cancer, where it could be prevented and could be used to detect cancer much earlier than is currently possible. 

The team say the breakthrough could help treat the disease at a much earlier stage – or even prevent it altogether. 

The researchers used a powerful technique called proteomics which allows them to analyse a large set of proteins in tissue samples at a single point in time. 

This provides an insight into how they interact with each other and find any important differences in proteins between different tissue samples.

Certain proteins could indicate if cancer is developing in the body (Picture: Getty/Science Photo Libra)

In the first study, scientists analysed blood samples taken from more than 44,000 British people, including more than 4,900 people who were afterwards diagnosed with cancer.

Using proteomics, the researchers analysed a set of 1,463 proteins from a single sample of blood from each person. 

The team compared the proteins of people who did and did not go on to develop cancer to look for differences between them and find out which ones were linked to the risk of cancer. 

The researchers also identified 182 proteins that differed in the blood three years before a cancer diagnosis took place.

Senior author of both studies Professor Ruth Travis said: ‘We now have technology that can look at thousands of proteins across thousands of cancer cases, identifying which proteins have a role in the development of specific cancers, and which might have effects that are common to multiple cancer types.’

In the second study, the team looked at genetic data from more than 300,000 cancer cases to do a ‘deep dive’ into which blood proteins were involved in cancer development and could be targeted by new treatments.

They found 40 proteins in the blood that influenced someone’s risk of getting nine different types of cancer. 

While altering the proteins may increase or decrease the chances of someone developing cancer, the researchers also found that in some cases this may lead to unintended side-effects.

Dr Keren Papier, joint first author of the first study, said: ‘To save more lives from cancer, we need to better understand what happens at the earliest stages of the disease. 

‘Data from thousands of people with cancer has revealed really exciting insights into how the proteins in our blood can …read more

Source:: Metro


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