This new rapid test could detect cancer and heart disease more easily

Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

Scientists from Imperial College London and elsewhere have built a new easy-to-use test that could diagnose non-infectious diseases like heart attacks and cancers more quickly.

The new test, called CrisprZyme, works by detecting molecular signals in the body called biomarkers, which are already used in things like COVID-19 testing where the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genes indicates COVID-19.

There are also biomarkers for non-infectious diseases: for example, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood can sometimes act as a biomarker to indicate the presence of prostate cancer.

The research is published in Nature Nanotechnology and was conducted by Dr. Marta Broto et al.

CrisprZyme builds on CRISPR diagnostic tests, which use RNA—the messenger that helps create proteins—to detect biomarkers in biological fluids like blood or urine.

In their current form, these tests detect RNA and then amplify this RNA by creating many copies so that the signal is easier to read.

However, these amplifying technologies must be temperature controlled to work, which requires expensive equipment.

Additionally, although they tell medics whether an infectious disease is present, they cannot provide information about how much biomarker is present, which is important for monitoring non-infectious diseases like heart diseases and cancer.

CrisprZyme improves this technology by replacing the amplification process with colorimetric analysis—a method that determines the amount of biomarker present without the need for amplification.

This eliminates the need for temperature control and additional steps and can also reveal how much of a biomarker is present in a sample.

The researchers hope this could enable quicker and easier diagnostics in settings like GP surgeries, as well as in resource-limited clinics in developing countries.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best heart disease treatment, and how to reduce blood pressure naturally with lifestyle changes.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about the cause of severe disease and death in COVID-19, and this existing drug could help prevent COVID death.

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