SA Scientists Make Groundbreaking Discovery In Cancer Diagnosis


A scientific breakthrough was recorded in South Africa on Friday as some SA scientists at the University of Cape Town (UCT) identified new genetic patterns that can help in early diagnosis of six common types of cancer.

Professor Kevin Naidoo and Dr. Jahanshah Ashkani of the UCT Chemistry Department made the discovery of a unique genetic pattern in breast, colon, lung, kidney, ovarian and brain cancer.

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After thorough research, the team discovered that each of the six cancer types has a unique genetic expression pattern that can be used for accurate early diagnosis and targeted treatment.

The ground-breaking discovery paves the way for accurate early diagnosis and effective treatment of the aforementioned types of cancer, which could offer the patient better chances of survival.

The chances of survival of this dangerous disease may be increased through the discovered patterns which can identify variations within each cancer type, thus guide specialised patient treatment.

Professor Kevin Naidoo, says their biggest focus in the research was on the difference between normal cells and tumorous cells, and how their genes compared.

“The way we did that was to analyse a sub-set of genes that are responsible for the levels of concentration of certain enzymes and those enzymes modify a thick layer of carbohydrates that sit around cells.”

Following the discovery by these SA scientists, Prof. Naidoo is taking it to the next level by leading a multi-laboratory collaboration to analyse the blood samples of South African patients.

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The best is yet to come as the scientists revealed that they hope to develop a low-cost gene expression tool for breast cancer soon. This is indeed great news considering that breast cancer is the most common cancer in South Africa and beyond and the number of sufferers keeps increasing.

More concerning is that fact that a large number of women with breast cancer are located in the rural areas where medical treatment is a luxury.

UCT spokesperson Pat Lucas said: “An early cancer diagnostic is critical for patient survival‚ as most cancers can be cured if discovered in their early stages.”