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A blood test for 13 types of cancer

The National Cancer Center in Japan is working to develop within five years a method to diagnose early 13 types of cancer by a simple blood test, has they announced this week.

This project of 7.9 billion yen (57 million euros) in particular should contribute to screening for cancer of breast, stomach, esophagus, lung, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, colon, ovarian, prostate and bladder. It could also help detect early degenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease.   


This is to verify the presence of blood in the micro-ribonucleic acids (microRNA), whose increase is supposed to report the development of a cancer. More than 2,500 varieties of these molecules have been identified in the human body and could serve as "markers" to detect different types of cancers, much faster than the battery sometimes heavy examinations currently existing method.

Several research teams in Europe and the United States are also interested in the role of microRNAs in the cases of various cancers, but Japanese researchers hope to advance further in their investigations, which have yet to lead to the realization of a commercial test.

The program is led by the Japanese Department of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) which supports programs for large-scale research in various fields, with the participation of several companies including Toray Industries and Toshiba that have big ambitions in the medical field.

This project will build on data from 65,000 patients provided by the National Cancer Centre. "If we succeed in developing the world's leading high-precision test in Japan, this may extend several years of people's lives and contribute to the development of Japanese industries," assured Tomomitsu Hotta, president of the center.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is a leading cause of mortality worldwide, responsible for 8.2 million deaths in 2012 Cancers of the lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancers are those that cause the greatest number of deaths each year. Having a technology to detect the fetal disease in its genesis will facilitate medical professionals to combat it more effectively.