Australian scientists have discovered a groundbreaking test using gold that could determine cancer in less than 10 minutes.

By Emily Pidgeon

Posted on December 10, 2018

Australian researchers have discovered gold could be an unprecedented way to diagnose every cancer with a simple 10-minute test.

The precious metal distinguishes cancer cells from healthy cells by acting as a disease magnet according to the University of Queensland’s recent study.

Researchers placed cells from breast cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer in a solution infused with gold nanoparticles that changed colour when the cancerous membranes formed 3D structures on the gold.

Almost every cell in the human body has the same DNA but cancer forces cells to reprogram. The test detected an epigenetic pattern where changes in cell biology (caused by epigenetic reprogramming of DNA methylation) can trigger the onset of disease.

The revolutionary breakthrough was 90% accurate during 200 human cancer sample tests, making blood test detection a possible cancer diagnosis requiring a small DNA collection.

“This happens in one drop of fluid,” Professor Matt Trau says. “You can detect it by eye, it’s as simple as that.”

As cancer is caused by DNA changes, the researchers can detect the presence of abnormal cells in any tissue type but not the type or stage of cancer.

Scientists believe the golden blood test could be used for cancers that don’t currently have a screening device such as ovarian or pancreatic.

“This methylation landscape that we referred to as Methylscape is displayed by most cancer types, thus may serve as a universal cancer biomarker,” the report states. “To date most research has focused on the biological consequences of DNA Methylscape changes whereas its impact on DNA physicochemical properties remains unexplored.”

While gold has been used in labs to help detect biological molecules before, it has not been tested other solutions until now.

The unique test has not been trialed on humans but it is thought the efficient test may perform early cancer diagnosis if taken to a clinical trial.

“We certainly don’t know yet whether it’s the Holy Grail or not for all cancer diagnostics but it looks really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker of cancer, and as a very accessible and inexpensive technology that does not require complicated lab based equipment like DNA sequencing,” Trau says.