Soon we’ll be able to spot diseases like cancer before we even feel sick

from The Gaurdian by Gustavo Stolovitzky –

The sooner a disease is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be well managed or cured. The challenge to finding a disease early is that most of us don’t seek treatment until we have symptoms, which means the disease has already progressed.

But breakthroughs in nanobiotechnology techniques mean that in five years we will be able to examine and filter bodily fluids for tiny bioparticles that reveal signs of disease like cancer before we have any symptoms, letting us know immediately if we should consult a doctor.

Information about the state of our health can be extracted from tiny bioparticles in bodily fluids such as saliva, tears, blood, urine and sweat called exosomes. These particles were first discovered in the 1980s as vesicles secreted by immature red blood cells, but later they were found to be secreted in all cell types. Scientists discovered that exosomes carry information from the cell they originated from, including proteins, RNA (ribonucleic acid) and DNA. Because the state of the originating cell can be inferred from these exosomes, they have been considered as potential biomarkers of disease for more than a decade. Besides cancer, exosomes are being considered as insightful for central nervous system diseases (Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and stroke), renal fibrosis and cardiovascular disease.

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