The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
The DNA in cancer cells can have mutations that affect the growth of a specific tumour, but these differences depend on the type of cancer.
"That absolutely stunned us", Professor Trau said.
Joyce Ohm, an associate professor of oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, agreed that the work is "an exciting potential advance" in looking for a general epigenetic biomarker for cancer.
The team found that the DNA of cancer cells sticks strongly to nanoparticles of gold giving a quick indication whether disease is present or not to the naked eye.
In healthy cells, the methyl groups are distributed throughout the genome.
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A newly developed cancer test can reportedly detect any type of cancer strain in just minutes. "We find that DNA polymeric behavior is strongly affected by differential patterning of methylcytosine, leading to fundamental differences in DNA solvation and DNA-gold affinity between cancerous and normal genomes".
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It should be noted that the test can not determine which one cancer or at what stage.
"You can compare that with some of our frontline cancer detection techniques", he said.
Currently, the test detects only the presence of cancer, not the type of cancer.
The research was funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the researchers are now working with the University of Queensland's commercialisation company UniQuest to further develop the technology.
Researchers at the University of Queensland have developed a potentially game-changing new technology that could revolutionize cancer point-of-care (POC) diagnostics.
"The gold standard is the biopsy, and I think that will still have to be done", he said.
Considering the current complicated and expensive procedure of detecting cancer and especially the delay associated with releasing the result, this new approach will make cancer detection and routine screening a simple procedure for doctors, medical experts said.
One possibility, still in development, is a liquid biopsy, testing for circulating cancer DNA in the blood.
"Like all good science, it raises a lot more questions", she said.