Identifying a certain disease early on is important for doctors to immediately implement effective treatment options. A team of scientists developed a new technique that has shown promise in detecting Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and cancer.
This new test, dubbed as antibody detection by agglutination-PCR (ADAP), is super-sensitive because it can detect these diseases 10,000 times more effectively than current diagnostic techniques. It's sensitive enough to detect even small clues that diseases leave in the blood.
The researchers described the test, which detects antibodies or related biomarkers in the blood, in the journal ACS Central Science.
Diseases Trigger The Immune System To Release Antibodies
It is the role of the body's immune system to counteract the effects of pathogens or cancer cells that are threatening the body. When they begin growing in the body, the immune system fights them off with antibodies. Detecting these antibodies or biomarkers is a way for tests to show if the person has an illness.
Usually, in diagnostic tests, the scientists would fish antibodies or biomarkers in the blood. They design a molecule that the biomarker will attach to, which is then given an identifying "flag."
They will analyze the flag through a battery of chemical reactions known as immunoassay, a biochemical test that measures the presence of a macromolecule in a solution through the use of an antibody or immunoglobulin.
10,000 Times More Sensitive And Effective
With the new technique, the scientists, led by Carolyn Bertozzi, a professor of chemistry at Stanford, enhanced the current procedure with potent DNA screening technology. By tweaking the procedure and replacing the standard flag with a short strand of DNA, this can provide more sensitive readings than traditional antibody tests.
When they compared the effectiveness of the new test with standard FDA-approved tests for thyroid cancer, they found that the new test is more sensitive than current tests by at least 800 times and by as much as 10,000 times.
Found effective in laboratory experiments, the test is now being tested in real-world clinical trials. The researchers have won several grants in order to pursue the study and apply them into clinical trials for screening HIV and various types of cancers.