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US researchers have overcome “technical hurdles” to develop a simple blood test that could be used to assess a patient’s suitability for chemotherapy.
The team at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine found that by measuring the key protein p16INK4a, which is linked to the ageing of cells, doctors could determine a patient`s chances of recovery after surgical procedures, as well as which treatments would be most suitable for their care.
By taking the blood test to establish a patient’s molecular age, rather than just their chronological age, doctors could then advise the correct procedures for patients before they undergo any potentially life-threatening procedures.
Dr Norman Sharpless, senior author of the study, said: “This is a major step toward a practical tool to clinically determine a person’s actual molecular age.
“Although we don’t know whether this test is a good reflection of cellular age in all types of human tissues, we believe it is a first step toward a better understanding of issues like the suitability of organs for transplantation, how well patients are likely to recover after surgery or the future toxicity of chemotherapy for cancer patients.”
Although progress has been made in developing such a test, researchers stress it is still years away and more work is needed to confirm the findings of the study, which only involved 170 subjects.
Copyright Press Association 2009