Over in India there have been a team of research scientists who have been working on new scans for detection of retinoblastoma so that blood tests can be phased out. However, in order for the fruits of their labour to be moved into the sphere of clinical use they need to have a larger study base. With a larger patient study base, more funds are required to complete the trials, so funding is being provided from a sponsored 6km Charity run held as an event in cities across the world in memory of Terry Fox, a Canadian who battled cancer and left a legacy of fundraising to battle the disease.
At the IIT-M in Chennai, it has become an annual event, with this years run taking place at the end of August with an aim to improve diagnosis of childhood eye cancer.
The faculty's researchers looked into tumour-specific micro-RNA in blood as part of the trial. It was discovered that when the blood count was more than double the normal, then eye cancer was already prevalent.
Twenty children with retinoblastoma took part in the trial that involved having blood drawn from which the serum was separated and micro-RNA extracted using a specialized kit. In a real time PCR test, they evaluated the percentage of five micro-RNAs seen in cancerous eye tumours.
While the micro-RNA will be present in most children, the levels in retinoblastoma patients will be far higher. Nearly 80% of children with retinoblastoma had between two to five times increase in the presence of these molecules when compared to normal children.