A New Blood Test For Ovarian Cancer May Soon Be Made Available


A breakthrough is on the horizon in the field of ovarian cancer diagnosis, as researchers have unveiled a potential simple blood test. This test aims to detect ovarian cancer by identifying three distinct proteins that serve as indicators of the disease.

The scientific team employed nanowires coated with a specialized chemical layer to extract these proteins from samples. This innovative approach raises the prospect of developing a screening program that could facilitate earlier detection of ovarian cancer. Often referred to as the “silent killer,” ovarian cancer typically manifests symptoms only after it has already metastasized, making early diagnosis crucial for effective treatment.

These proteins, termed extracellular vesicles (EVs), are minuscule molecules released by tumors. They can be isolated from bodily fluids such as blood, urine, and saliva. The Japanese researchers successfully isolated these EVs from the most prevalent form of ovarian cancer, high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC). Employing a sophisticated analytical method known as liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, they pinpointed three specific proteins that exhibited promise as biomarkers for HGSC.

The findings, recently published in the journal Science Advances, represent a significant step forward in the realm of ovarian cancer detection. By focusing on these telltale proteins, this innovative approach holds potential to revolutionize early diagnosis and subsequently improve treatment outcomes for individuals afflicted by ovarian cancer.

“The results of this research suggest that these diagnostic biomarkers can be used as predictive markers for specific therapies,” said lead author Dr. Akira Yokoi from Nagoya University.

“Our results allow doctors to optimize their therapeutic strategy for ovarian cancer, therefore, they may be useful for realizing personalized medicine.”

Ninety percent of women who receive an early diagnosis successfully overcome their medical challenge, highlighting the crucial importance of timely detection. However, the grim reality is that when the condition is identified in its later stages, the probability of survival dwindles to a mere ten percent.

Presently, merely one-third of instances are identified in their initial phases, underscoring the urgency for improved diagnostic methods. The emergence of three specific proteins presents a promising avenue for the development of a novel diagnostic tool, potentially revolutionizing the early detection landscape. This discovery could significantly enhance the chances of identifying and addressing health issues in a timely manner, ultimately leading to improved survival rates and better overall outcomes for affected individuals.

“The validation steps for the identified proteins were tough because we had to try a lot of antibodies before we found a good target,” Dr. Yokoi also added.

Following that, the researchers engineered nanowires that were coated with a thermoplastic polymer called polyketone. The primary objective of this innovation was to effectively separate and isolate proteins present in blood samples. This advancement holds significance due to its potential applications in various fields such as medical diagnostics, biotechnology, and healthcare. The integration of nanowires with the polyketone coating offers a novel approach to enhance the precision and efficiency of protein separation processes, thereby contributing to the advancement of scientific and medical endeavors.

“It was tough. We must have tried three to four different coatings on the nanowires. Although polyketones are a completely new material to use to coat this type of nanowire, in the end, they were such a good fit.”