Cell-free DNA in urine potential method to detect cancer, confirms study


For clinical purposes, urinalysis has long been a staple among a slew of physical exams to detect and manage a number of diseases and health conditions. But not for cancer. How would it be if cancer could be detected in its earliest stages, when the response to treatment is more favorable and there is more likelihood of improved outcomes?

This was the question posed by scientists at the Translational Genomics Research Institute. To address this, scientists found a way to zero down early stage cancer. The method involved analyzing short strands of DNA in the urine that are free of cells.

The findings of the study are published in the scientific journal Science Translational Medicine.

Meanwhile, previous thought of cancer detection using this method opined that DNA fragments in urine degraded randomly. Due to this, the DNA fragments were too short to provide any meaningful information of a complex disease like cancer.

Importantly, contrary to the previous view, researchers at Translational Genomics Research Institute in association with researchers at City of Hope found that DNA fragments are not random at all. Not only this, the DNA fragments can clearly indicate a difference between healthy individuals and the ones with cancer.

“Nonetheless, there are many steps between how currently DNA fragments are used for cancer detection and what the ultimate aim is. However, detecting cancer from a urine sample is an encouraging first step itself,” stated the senior author of the study.

In fact, the senior author of the study previously led a team of scientist at Translational Genomics Research Institute who pioneered the use of genetic fragments to diagnose cancer by simply drawing blood.

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