Scientists are working to create a pill that would allow doctors to diagnose cancer with a simple blood test. The pill, designed by Stanford Medical School researchers, would cause cancerous tumors to release biomarkers into the bloodstream, and when completed, it would become the world’s most non-invasive cancer diagnosis test.
In a recent study, the Stanford researchers customized tiny rings of DNA called DNA minicircles, which force tumors to release cancer biomarkers. So far, the DNA minicircles have been tested on mice, and according to the press release, they had no effect on healthy animals but caused the tumors in mice with cancer to produce a substance that could be detected in a blood test in as little as 48 hours. The Stanford team believes this discovery has the potential to be translated to the clinic in a few short years.
Although at the moment limited to animal studies and intravenous injection, the team hopes to soon transform the procedure to a simpler version that could be used on humans.
“We haven’t got it down to a pill yet, but the oral delivery part of this is likely a solvable problem — only a few years off, not five or 10 years off,” Dr. Sanjiv “Sam” Gambhir, lead author of the study, explained in the Stanford press release.