Canadian scientists have developed a new chip that can locate chromosomes abnormalities in cancer patients, marking a major breakthrough for cancer treatment, local media reported Tuesday.
The new technology could one day allow doctors to quickly decide on and tailor a treatment program to the needs of cancer patients, scientists say.
Created by the University of Alberta, in collaboration with the Alberta Cancer Board and other researchers and engineers, the glass chip performs a diagnostic test that allows abnormalities in chromosomes, that hold vital genetic information, to be located. Chromosomes are often broken, abnormal or rejoined incorrectly when cancer is present, according to a report by Canadian Television (CTV).
"Basically what we’ve done is develop a test that takes something that’s already done conventionally and do it in a miniaturized fashion on what we call a chip," Dr. Linda Pilarski, University of Alberta oncology professor and Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Nanotechnology said.
The chip allows doctors to assess the effectiveness of cancer treatment and to determine if cancer is returning after remission.
The test, which is called FISH for fluorescent in situ hybridization, involves attaching colored dyes to chromosomes to detect abnormalities and is usually performed in labs. But it is rarely carried out because it is too expensive. As a result patients have to take a variety of drugs and treatments so that doctors can detect any abnormalities in chromosomes.
While the chip means patients do not have to suffer the side effects of a treatment, other benefits of the chip test can be measured in time and money. The chip test costs around 100 Canadian dollars (94 U.S. dollars), roughly ten times less than the conventional methods that are currently used.
Additionally, the results of the test can be reported within 24 hours as opposed to the days it currently takes to generate results.