A new blood test developed by US researchers has shown promise for detecting pancreatic cancer in less than an hour.
The test, which is at the proof-of-concept stage, can rapidly screen a drop of blood for biomarkers of pancreatic cancer and provide results in less than an hour.
"We can use just a drop of blood as is -- no extra processing required," said lead author Jean Lewis, Assistant Project Scientist at UC San Diego.
The test uses an electronic chip-based system to extract nano-sized biological structures called exosomes directly from blood in minutes.
The physicians need to just apply a drop of blood on a small electronic chip, then turn the current on, wait for several minutes and add fluorescent labels and finally look at the results under a microscope.
If a blood sample tests positive for pancreatic cancer, bright fluorescent circles will appear, the researchers said, in a paper published in the journal ACS Nano.
"This test could be used as a primary screening strategy to identify patients who would subsequently need to undergo more expensive and invasive diagnostic methods like a CT scan, MRI or endoscopy," added Rebekah White, surgical oncologist and Associate Professor at the university's Moores Cancer Centre.
In the trial, the chip was able to flag the blood samples of patients with pancreatic cancer from those of patients without cancer.
"We envision that in the future, physicians might perform this type of test using a quick finger stick to diagnose patients who may not know they have the disease yet," Lewis added.