Malaria Protein Helps Detect Cancer Tumour cells in Blood More Accurately, Cheaply

Cancer tumour cells in the blood can be more accurately and cheaply detected using a malaria protein, new research led by UNSW’s Chris Heeschen shows.

Researchers from UNSW Sydney and the University of Copenhagen have developed a new way to detect early-stage cancer tumour cells in the blood using a malaria protein. UNSW Professor Chris Heeschen said the hope is that this method, in which malaria protein VAR2CSA sticks to cancer cells, can be used as a more effective way to screen for cancer in the near future.

“We have developed a method where we take a blood sample and with great sensitivity and specificity, we’re able to retrieve the individual cancer cells from the blood,” Professor Heeschen said. “We catch the cancer cells in greater numbers than existing methods, which offers the opportunity to detect cancer earlier and thus improve outcome for patients.”

According to the research, the new method can be used more broadly to diagnose cancer as it is not limited by cancer type. It also means all that is needed for a cancer diagnosis is a blood sample. Professor Heeschen thinks the new technique could be available in the market within two years if a biodiagnostic …

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