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Fluorescent feces test may detect colorectal cancer

McMaster University researchers use Canadian Cancer Society grant to develop test to detect colorectal cancer in the early stages.
By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |   Sept. 4, 2014 at 1:50 PM

HAMILTON, Ontario, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Scientists at Canada's McMaster University said their plan for an affordable and non-invasive test for colorectal cancer involves making a patient's stool glow.

Dr. Yingfu Li, a biochemist, and gastroenterologist Dr. Bruno Salena, both at the Hamilton, Ontario school, said an Innovation Grant grant from the Canadian Cancer Society is helping them to develop fluorescent DNA enzymes, or DNAzymes, that would glow in the fecal matter of patients with colorectal cancer.

"I find it very exciting as a clinician," Salena said. "If we can produce a simple, cost-effective test here, the costs for a population are much less all around."

Doctors say colorectal cancer is 90 percent treatable when it is detected in the early stages. However, Li said the procedure is invasive and expensive.

"If we could offer a simpler test, you'd get more people receptive to this type of screening," he said.

The researchers said they plan to start testing a panel of molecules next summer. They said the system could eventually be used to test for other types of cancer, if it proves effective.

"We're really going to do our best to make this happen." The two-year grant is worth $199,650. The Canadian Cancer Society awarded 51 Innovation Grants in 2014 worth nearly $10 million in total.

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