Researchers at Soroka Medical Center and Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva are saying they’re past the preliminary stage of developing a unique method that may provide early detection of many types of cancer, using a simple blood test. Clinical tests which were performed recently yielded detection in close to 90 percent of patients.
“The research is still using small-scale clinical tests,” said Prof. Joseph Kapelushnik, head of the center’s children’s meta oncology department. “But our aim is to develop an efficient, cheap and simple method to detect as many types of cancer as possible.”
Early detection, coupled with a rapid assessment and a quick and effective response is viewed as the best and most cost-efficient ways of dealing with cancer. But the process of detection can be cumbersome and costly, and each procedure reveals only a limited number of cancer types.
Prof. Kapelushnik’s team developed a unique method which makes it possible to detect cancer cells through a blood test, using infrared light. A sample of only one cubic centimeter (less than a teaspoon) is placed in an instrument which examines the spectrum and yields results which point out the presence of cancer in the patient’s body.
“We’ve managed to distinguish between different types at a rate of around 90 percent sensitivity,” said Prof. Kapelushnik. “The data is limited for now, and we’ll have to test thousands of patients to determine that the method works, but at the moment we are pleased with the results.”
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Johnson & Johnson, to name just one team, are among groups of scientists who are in the process of seeking a simple blood test that may be able to identify cancer cells in the blood stream. But Prof. Kapelushnik thinks his research is at a more advanced stage than competing, similar efforts.
“We should be able to detect the cancer before it had a chance to metastasize,” he says. “And this can mean fewer treatments, less suffering and many more lives saved.”
The Soroka University Medical Center is the largest medical center in southern Israel, and the second largest in the country.