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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Blood tests detect cancer faster
A potential early warning system for lung cancer is being developed by medical experts in Nottingham.

University of Nottingham scientists have developed a blood test which can detect tumours in the early stages.

It is hoped the tests might be available as early as next year, according to Dr Caroline Chapman.

The research, published in the journal Thorax, concentrated on breast and lung cancer, but Dr Chapman said clinical tests are continuing.

Immune system

The researchers said they had discovered raised levels of antibodies in blood from people with early stages of breast cancer.

"Breast cancer work we have done does show the antibodies are present prior to detection by mammographic screening," Dr Chapman said.

The study found that changes in the blood can be detected which signal the presence of lung cancer - and that these changes can be present years before outward symptoms become apparent.

The research team at Nottingham, along with a team at Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, analysed blood samples from 50 healthy volunteers and 104 people with different types of lung cancer.

They tested for auto-antibodies - immune system proteins that are directed at the body's own tissues in response to specific chemical signals in the body.

They looked in particular for seven auto-antibodies, which are associated with cancerous tumours and are triggered when cancerous changes take place.

They found the presence of all seven auto-antibodies in almost eight out of 10 samples taken from patients with confirmed lung cancer.

A blood test for the early detection of breast cancer is to be released by Oncimmune, a spin-off company from the University of Nottingham, in 2009 in the USA.

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