Asan Medical Center said its researchers have developed a technology to diagnose colorectal cancer by dropping a drop of blood on a hand-sized piece of ultra-thin plastic film.
The research team, led by Professor Park In-ja of Colon and Rectal Surgery Department and Professor Shin Yong of Convergence Medicine Department, was able to separate cell-free nucleic acid (CFNA) using the film, which allows a low-cost diagnosis of the disease, the hospital said.
|Professor Shin Yong of Convergence Medicine Department at Asan Medical Center separates cell-free nucleic acid (CFNA) of a colorectal cancer patient using an ultra-thin plastic film.|
Moreover, the new technology’s diagnosis of the colorectal cancer is more precise than conventional diagnostic devices that use blood, Asan Medical Center said.
Cancer patients tend to have high concentrations of CFNA than ordinary people. Existing devices for the separation of CFNA require other equipment such as a centrifuge, a vacuum pump, and a direct current power supply.
However, the researchers’ new technology, which uses the characteristics of a substance called “DTBP” that binds selectively to CFNA in the blood, separates CFNA when a drop of blood is placed on an ultra-thin plastic film half a size of a grown-up man’s hand. The technology does not need any extra equipment, saving costs for patients.
The research team divided 14 colorectal cancer patients into two groups and compared the new technology’s diagnostic accuracy with that of conventional devices. The results showed a meaningful difference.
The researchers took tissue samples from 14 colon cancer patients and comparing the next generation sequencing (NGS) test results with the new diagnostic method using blood. The conventional CFNA separation technique showed 57 percent diagnostic accuracy, while the newly developed platform technology achieved 71 percent accuracy.
While it took about one hour to isolate CFNA from blood to diagnose colon cancer using the conventional method, the research team’s technique took only about 20 minutes because of the simplicity of placing a drop of blood on to the thin film, the hospital said.
“Korea ranks first in colorectal cancer incidence in the world. But early detection of the disease can raise cure rate significantly. Patients with colon cancer show a high recurrence rate, so it is imperative to keep track of the disease,” said Shin. “We developed a technology that costs less than a biopsy and has higher accuracy than existing devices that diagnose colorectal cancer with blood.”
Shin said the new technology could be applied to other types of cancer. “It will take some time to commercialize it, but we will continue our research so that physicians can easily and accurately diagnose cancer with the CFNA isolation platform technology and that cancer patients can receive the treatment quickly,” he added.
The research has been published in the online version of the international journal, Advanced Science.