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New sugar-test to reduce false-positive cancer diagnoses
Date:3/10/2014

ificantly reduce the number of patients elected for further testing," says Blixt.

Test targets markers elevated by benign conditions too

Three-percent of all women will be tested for ovarian cancer in their lifetimes. In the United States alone, every year 100,000 women receive the distressing message that they might have cancer, following the initial test.

Women with ovarian cancer have an elevated amount of a protein known as CA125 in their blood. Therefore, current tests focus on this protein. Unfortunately, a wide range of other and far more benign conditions also increases CA125 figures. These include benign cysts, infections and even menstruation and pregnancy.

Sugar transformed by cancer

Ola Blixt directs the new diagnostic tests at an entirely different biological molecule, namely a sugar that coats the surface of the CA125 protein. Blixt explains that the presence of this specific sugar is limited to women who really are affected by ovarian cancer.

"All proteins have a type of sugar-coat small, complicated sugar molecules that reside on a protein's surface. When cancer is present in the body, we can observe a chemical change in this sugar-coat. It is a very complex phenomenon. Luckily, it is very simple to investigate and determine the presence of this transformed sugar coating," states Blixt.

Unpatented discovery allows for immediate integration

In principle, the sugar testers could be included in the currently prevalent diagnostic kits immediately. In the lab, Blixt and his PhD student, Kowa Chen, tested a plant lectin and and a monoclonal antibody. Both serve to reveal the specific sugar, and both are cheap and easy to get a hold of. The way is even cleared for willing manufacturers, explains Blixt.

"We have decided to publish these results, as opposed to taking out a patent. OK, we won't get rich, even though the market related to ovarian cancer is worth 170 million doll
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Contact: Jes Andersen
jean@science.ku.dk
45-23-60-11-40
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert  

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