PanSeer is an analysis that tracks the trail cancer leaves in DNA and could change the way we fight this disease forever.
At the same time that effective treatments and therapies are sought to treat different types of cancer, early detection is one of the pillars of medicine to reduce deaths from this disease worldwide.
A timely diagnosis can make the difference between the effectiveness of a timely treatment or an advanced cancer that responds with more difficulty to therapy. Hence, campaigns focused on early detection are so important to global public health.
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Anticipating an illness even before it manifests and reliably predicting how it will progress seems like science fiction, but it could be a reality in no time:
A study led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, introduced a new technique called PanSeer, a novel noninvasive blood test based on DNA methylation of the circulating tumor capable of detecting cancer up to 4 years before its manifestation and conventional diagnosis.
The research published in nature communications used data from 112,135 people who donated plasma to the database known as the Taizhou Longitudinal Study, in China between 2007 and 2014.
The study focused especially on 605 plasma samples from the same number of patients, of whom 191 were subsequently diagnosed with some form of cancer.
The study results are promising: PanSeer detected cancer in a 95% of asymptomatic individuals who were subsequently diagnosed by the usual methods, such as tomograms, biopsies or mammograms.
The study focused on five types of cancer: esophagus, stomach, lung, liver, and colon.
The idea of tracking DNA methylation traces (a mechanism that determines how certain genes will behave as we age or during carcinogenesis) is part of the promising field of epigenetics.
This technique not a forecast that assesses high chances of cancer development through risk factors, but rather a detection of the disease at a very early stage, when there are still no symptoms associated with it.
Being able to receive a diagnosis years before the disease progresses could dramatically decrease the mortality caused by some of the most aggressive cancers and open the way for the development of new suitable treatments to stop metastases in the early stages with fewer side effects.
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