Spanish scientists discover technique that detects cancer ‘within 3 hours’


London, April 13

In a breakthrough, scientists in Spain have developed cheap and easy mobile testing kits that can detect cancer within three hours.

The technique developed by a team from Barcelona's Centre for Genomic Regulation uses nanotechnology to analyse ribonucleic acid (RNA) present in blood samples.

Published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the technique combined with artificial intelligence tools, detects abnormalities in a non-invasive manner and indicates the existence of certain cancers.

"Our aim is to further develop this technology and combine it with artificial intelligence tools to determine the malignancy of a biological sample in less than three hours, and at a cost of no more than 50 euros per sample," said Dr Eva Novoa, senior author of the study and researcher at the Centre in a statement.

The new technique involves passing RNA molecules through tiny pores in a membrane causing measurable alterations in an electrical current, and it could lead to important advances in diagnosing illnesses in the developing world due to its simplicity, The Telegraph reported.

The nanopore sequencing machines required for the technique are small, lightweight and can be powered by a laptop or portable battery, making them easy to transport to remote locations and enabling their use in the field or clinic.

"This is very affordable technology and so it brings opportunities to take sequencing to the field," Dr Novoa was quoted as saying to The Telegraph.

Dr Novoa noted that, in the case of cancer, it is possible not only to detect its presence, but also how advanced the disease is without a biopsy requiring a laboratory test.

So far, the team has worked on the detection of lymphoma, breast and bowel cancers, but the technique is likely to also be useful in detecting other diseases, the report said.


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