Editor's note

Cancer is currently diagnosed with a biopsy, which requires an invasive, often surgical, procedure to collect tissue from the patient. And by the point at which it can be detected, the cancer is often at a more advanced stage than ideal for treatment. This is why researchers are on the lookout for a quicker, non-invasive way of diagnosing cancers at an earlier stage. And they’re getting closer, with new blood tests (known as liquid biopsies) in development all over the world.

Now, researchers from the University of Queensland have found that all cancers share a specific structure in the their cell DNA. And if put in water, it forms a pattern that is attracted to gold particles. The researchers, Abu Sina, Laura Carrascosa and Matt Trau, write that isolating cancerous DNA and seeing its affinity to gold can detect cancer in less than ten minutes. But it’s important to remember, this is one of many cancer diagnostic tests in development, and it is currently only lab based. Large human trials are needed to make sure this kind of detection method can be used in the clinic, and that the number of false diagnoses aren’t so high that it cancels out the real benefits.

On a side note, we’re very excited to be hosting a space-themed event for our readers in Brisbane. Join The Conversation’s Curious Kids editor Sunanda Creagh, The University of Southern Queensland’s Jonti Horner, The University of Queensland’s Josh Calcino and Janie Hoormann as they discuss all things space-related to launch The Conversation Yearbook 2018. Buy your tickets here (and bring the kids along for free).

Sasha Petrova

Deputy Editor, Health + Medicine

Top Stories

All cancers have a similar DNA pattern that differs from that of non-cancer cells. from shutterstock.com

One test to diagnose them all: researchers exploit cancers’ unique DNA signature

Abu Sina, The University of Queensland; Laura G. Carrascosa, The University of Queensland; Matt Trau, The University of Queensland

Our research has found that cancer DNA forms a unique structure when placed in water. We used this finding to develop a test that can detect cancerous DNA in less than ten minutes.

Northwest Australia has some of the world’s best conditions for solar and wind energy production. PR Handout Image/AAP

Making Australia a renewable energy exporting superpower

Roger Dargaville, Monash University; Changlong Wang, University of Melbourne; Scott Hamilton

An energy transmission network between Australia and Indonesia could help both nations achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2050.

Two thirds of Australians over 65 use social media. Shutterstock

What younger people can learn from older people about using technology

Bernardo Figueiredo, RMIT University; Linda Brennan, RMIT University; Torgeir Aleti (né Watne), RMIT University

Younger generations could learn a thing or two from their older counterparts about how to have a healthier relationship with digital technologies like social media.



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