Ann Conkle
Mar 19, 2012

Identifying specific cancers using molecular analysis

Researchers have discovered a method to identify chromosomal translocations -- cancer-causing rearrangements of genetic material -- quickly, accurately and inexpensively. Hundreds of cancer-causing translocations have been discovered, but current methods for detecting them have shortcomings. The technique combines microarray technology, which can look for thousands of translocations in a single test, with an antibody that detects the translocation. "We're moving past the age when a pathologist looking through the microscope at a tumor sample is the best way to diagnose what type of cancer it is," said Stephen Lessnick, an author of the study. "The molecular tests currently available are slow, inefficient and expensive, and one of the biggest issues is that you need high-quality tumor samples, not always available in the clinical setting, to do them." According to Lessnick, his method tolerates real-life specimens much better than the current techniques.