Simple blood test for ovarian cancer on the horizon after recent discovery.
A simple blood test for the ‘silent killer’ ovarian cancer is on the horizon after the discovery of three telltale proteins.
Scientists captured them from samples using nanowires with a special chemical coating.
It offers hope of a screening program and earlier diagnosis of the disease dubbed ‘the silent killer’ as symptoms usually develop once it has already spread.
The molecules are known as EVs (extracellular vesicles), especially small proteins released from the tumor.
They can be isolated from body fluids such as blood, urine and saliva.
The Japanese team extracted them from the most common type of ovarian cancer called HGSC (high-grade serous carcinoma or HGSC).
They were analyzed using a scanning technique called liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Lead author Dr. Akira Yokoi, of Nagoya University, said: “Our findings showed each of the three identified proteins is useful as a biomarker for HGSCs.
“The results of this research suggest that these diagnostic biomarkers can be used as predictive markers for specific therapies.
“Our results allow doctors to optimize their therapeutic strategy for ovarian cancer, therefore, they may be useful for realizing personalized medicine.”
Nine-in-ten women with early-stage disease survive, dropping to just one in ten if picked up late – one of the highest death rates of all cancers.
Ovarian cancer strikes 7,400 women in the UK annually, claiming more than 4,000 deaths a year. Swift diagnosis is key.
Currently only around a third of cases are caught early – with the majority at later stages.
The previously unidentified proteins open the door to a new diagnostic tool.
Dr. Yokoi said: “The validation steps for the identified proteins were tough because we had to try a lot of antibodies before we found a good target.
“As a result, it became clear that the small and medium/large EVs are loaded with clearly different molecules.
“Further investigation revealed that small EVs are more suitable biomarkers than the medium and large type. We identified the membrane proteins FRα, Claudin-3, and TACSTD2 in the small EVs associated with HGSC.”
The researchers created nanowires covered with a thermoplastic polymer called polyketone to separate the proteins from blood samples.
Dr. Yokoi said: “It was tough. We must have tried three to four different coatings on the nanowires.
“Although polyketones are a completely new material to use to coat this type of nanowire, in the end, they were such a good fit.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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