Researchers have found that gold is the secret to a more accurate prostate cancer test

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A more accurate prostate cancer test has been developed in the US which costs less than a $1 and needs just a pinprick of blood .

The current standard test, PSA, typically requires drawing blood and produces many false positive results which can led to painful biopsies.

The new test has been developed by University of Central Florida scientist Qun (Treen) Huo.

“It’s fantastic,” said Dr Inoel Rivera, a urologic oncologist at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute, which collaborated with Huo on pilot studies. “It’s a simple test. It’s much better than the test we have right now, which is the PSA, and it’s cost-effective.”

When a cancerous tumor begins to develop, the body produce antibodies. Huo’s test detects that response using tiny gold nanoparticles.

When a few drops of blood from a finger prick are mixed with the gold nanoparticles, certain cancer biomarkers cling to the surface of the particles, increasing their size and causing them to clump together.

A bottle of gold nanoparticles suspended in water costs about $250 and is enough for about 2,500 tests.

“What’s different and unique about our technique is it’s a very simple process, and the material required for the test is less than $1,” Huo said. “And because it’s low-cost, we’re hoping most people can have this test in their doctor’s office. If we can catch this cancer in its early stages, the impact is going to be big.”

After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second-leading killer cancer among men.

Pilot studies found the technique has a 90% to 95% confidence that the result is not false positive.

For false negatives, there is 50% confidence, significantly higher than the current PSA’s 20%.

The results of the pilot studies are published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Huo is also scheduled to present her findings in June at the TechConnect World Innovation Summit Washington.

She hopes to complete major clinical trials and see the test being used by doctors in two to three years.

Huo also is researching the technique as a screening tool for other tumours.

“Potentially, we could have a universal screening test for cancer,” she said. “Our vision is to develop an array of blood tests for early detection and diagnosis of all major cancer types, and these blood tests are all based on the same technique and same procedure.”

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