A research team led by the Tokyo-based National Cancer Center Japan has developed a new test to diagnose 13 kinds of cancers from a single drop of blood, with a clinical study set to start from next month.

The center’s research and ethics screening committee gave the green light to the study in mid-July. The research team will apply to the central government to put the new test into practical use within three years, at the earliest.

Thus far, there has been no test to diagnose multiple kinds of cancers at one time. If the new test is introduced in comprehensive medical examinations and other checkups, deaths from cancer could be reduced.

The new test utilizes microRNA (miRNA), a substance that is secreted from cells into the blood and regulates the movements of genes. Types of miRNA differ between cancer cells and normal cells, and they do not decompose for a certain period of time.

The team is composed of researchers from the center, Toray Industries Inc. — which has the testing technology — and other institutions. They succeeded in identifying miRNA specific to 13 kinds of cancers, such as breast, lung, stomach, colorectal, esophagus, liver and pancreatic cancers, from the preserved blood of about 40,000 patients, most of whom were cancer sufferers.

From a single drop of blood, the researchers could diagnose all the cancers, including relatively early stage 1 cancers, with more than 95 percent accuracy. Breast cancer was diagnosed with 97 percent accuracy.

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Source: The Japan News