The end of weeks-long waits for key test results? Experts find quicker way to spot cancers and heart disease… and say it could be one day rolled out in GP practices

  • CrisprZyme test was developed by researchers from the UK, US, and Germany
  • It uses similar technology to Covid tests to detect tiny proteins in bodily fluids
  • These proteins, called biomarkers, could be signs of cancers or heart disease
  • Current tests need to be sent to a temperature controlled lab to work properly
  • Developers of CrisprZyme hope it could lead to faster diagnosis at a GP surgery

Hard to detect cancers and heart conditions could be picked up faster, thanks to a new test.

Researchers hope the technology will stop patients having to wait days or weeks for blood tests to come back from labs. 

Instead, they think their system could one day be rolled out straight in GP practices themselves. 

Current tests for cancer and heart disease, available on the NHS, look for disease in the blood and urine.

These trawl through samples to look for certain ‘biomarkers’, substances which can indicate illness. 

For example, high levels of a prostate specific antigen (PSA) can sometimes serve as sign of the cancer in men.   

Meanwhile, troponin tests can detect if a patient has had a heart attack.

The new test, called CrisprZyme, works in the same way.

Imperial College London scientists have detected a new test that analyses bodily fluids like blood for proteins that could indicate a patient has cancer or heart disease that could one day skip the need for lab analysis and deliver results in a GP's office (stock image)

Imperial College London scientists have detected a new test that analyses bodily fluids like blood for proteins that could indicate a patient has cancer or heart disease that could one day skip the need for lab analysis and deliver results in a GP’s office (stock image)

However, it skips the timely process of amplification — replicating a sample enough times so that the minute traces of substances can be detected.

Instead of needing to send samples to a lab to search for biomarkers, CrisprZyme simply gives results by changing colour if a certain chemical is present — like a litmus test. 

A darker colour would indicate more of the substance, in theory.  

Lead author Professor Molly Stevens, of Imperial College London, said: ‘Our test, like others, indicates when a biomarker is present.

‘But CrisprZyme is a simpler diagnostic than those currently available. 

‘What also sets it apart is it can tell us just how much biomarker is present, which can help us not just with diagnosing a disease, but with monitoring its progress over time and in response to treatment.’

Fellow researcher Dr Marta Broto added: ‘As well as potentially boosting access to diagnostics in developing countries, this technology could bring us a step closer to personalised diagnostics at home or at the GP surgery. 

‘By making clinical diagnostic tests simpler, we will be able to provide clinicians with the right tools to test at the same GP surgery instead of having to reschedule for follow-up analyses and blood tests.’

The results were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Doctors warn NHS focus on urinary symptoms could hamper diagnosis of prostate cancer

An NHS focus on male urinary symptoms could be hampering efforts to detect prostate cancer early, doctors warn.

Researchers from Cambridge University said there is ‘no evidence of a causal link’ between prostate cancer and prostate size or problems urinating.

However, official health advice often promotes this link, which risks giving men a false sense of security, the experts add. 

They want to improve awareness that the disease may have no symptoms in its early stages and say more men should come forward for tests.

The top symptom given for prostate cancer on the NHS website is ‘needing to pee more frequently, often during the night’, followed by ‘needing to rush to the toilet’ and ‘difficulty in starting to pee’.

Researchers, argue the ‘strong public perception’ that male urinary symptoms are a key indicator of prostate cancer ‘may be seriously hampering efforts to encourage early presentation’. 


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