Toshiba Corp. has developed a new way to detect cancer with just a single drop of blood, and it could save lives. The test can detect 13 different types of cancer, including lung, breast and prostate cancer, and it’s 99 percent accurate.
Toshiba, Japan’s National Cancer Center Research Institute, and Tokyo Medical University worked together to develop the test and they’re hoping it could start being used in the next “several years.” Koji Hashimoto, chief research scientist at Toshiba’s Frontier Research Laboratory, said in a statement that this is a major breakthrough.
“Compared to other companies’ methods, we have an edge in the degree of accuracy in cancer detection, the time required for detection and the cost,” Hashimoto said.
The test detects microRNA molecules in the blood that originate from cancer cells. Patients will be able to get their results within a couple hours. This could help detect cancer at an early stage so it is less likely to be fatal.
Amazingly, the test will cost less than $200. Furthermore, that price tag would likely go down over time.
This isn’t the first time researchers have developed a test to detect cancer using a blood sample. A study that was published in the journal Science last year by researchers at Johns Hopkins described a test that could detect eight different types of cancer, including lung, breast and colon cancer.
This test was found to be 70 percent accurate. It was done by identifying protein biomarkers and DNA mutations caused by cancer in the blood. As the study says, detecting cancer early is “key to reducing cancer deaths,” which is why this kind of test could be so beneficial.
The test that was described in Science would cost around $500, so it’d be significantly more expensive than Toshiba’s test. An interesting thing about the test is the researchers were able to develop an algorithm that could detect where the cancer originated that was successful 63 percent of the time.
Another test that was revealed last year was able to detect 10 different kinds of cancer, including pancreatic, ovarian and liver cancer. The test was between 56 and 90 percent accurate, depending on the type of cancer. This one takes roughly two weeks for results to be produced.
The test uses three different DNA-based indicators in the blood to diagnose someone. One of the researchers who worked on that study referred to this developing technology as “potentially the holy grail of cancer research.”
Obviously, the sooner you can identify that someone has cancer, the better off they’ll be. With lung cancer, for instance, you have a 56 percent chance of surviving if it’s detected early. That rate drops to 5 percent if it’s detected at a late stage.
We still need to do more research into how we can diagnose cancer using blood tests, but just in the last year there have been multiple exciting developments. While we wait for science to produce the cure for cancer, we can at least make it more likely people will survive cancer.