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Kevin Dalby, Austin Cancer Specialist, Explores New Molecular Techniques for Cancer Detection

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When it comes to discovering and detecting cancer, doctors and scientists are benefiting from new molecular techniques.

Kevin Dalby, an expert in cancer research and professor at The University of Texas in Austin, examines the mechanisms of nature and cancer to develop new treatments and teach and motivate students to conduct research. Dalby is optimistic about the future of cancer treatments, including molecular techniques for cancer detection. Here, Kevin Dalby gives an overview of the definition, history, and recent advancements in the field of molecular techniques for cancer detection.


Utilizing molecular techniques for cancer detection is a form of analysis that depends on the identification of individual biologic molecules. Molecular diagnostics are a fundamental component of precision medicine. Precision medicine is a method that uses the examination of protein, DNA, RNA, or similar molecules.

Doctors will recommend molecular diagnostics through more than one test if they feel it necessary to diagnose a cancer patient more accurately and better inform the patient of the specific treatment options. For example, if a woman is diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, molecular techniques will help decide the best avenue for treatment. Her test results might reveal that her tumor will react more successfully to a medication created to decrease the effects of estrogen. Her test results may also show that the route of anti-estrogen therapy will most likely cut the need for chemotherapy alongside.


Oncohematologists were the first to realize the promising possibilities displayed through the use of molecular genetic tools. They found that specific chromosomal translocations might drastically help the diagnosis of diverse leukemias and lymphomas. Since its discovery, the techniques of molecular biology have been practiced in clinical diagnosis for more than twenty years.

However, the approach is still new to certain areas. Records revealed that it was not until the late nineties and early 2000’s that specific National Institutes of Health and educational facilities first used the techniques in the research field. In 2014, the ABC Medical Center in Mexico City integrated the use of different molecular diagnostic approaches for generic alteration identification in multiple types of cancer. Through this implementation, the Laboratory of Molecular Pathology was born, and medical professionals were able to determine a personalized treatment altered to focus on opposing evolved genes that spark disease for each cancer patient.

Recent Field Advances

In today’s world, molecular techniques are tools for catching cancer’s early stages, prognosis, and gauging specific therapy efficacy. The advancements of molecular diagnostics help scientists and doctors better understand the characteristics of individual cancers and more accurately compare and determine the evolution and mutation of historically related cancers. Molecular techniques are aiding in ascertaining the presence of biomarkers. Biomarkers are cellular constituents measured through samples such as tumor, blood, or urine. These biomarkers provide data regarding the existence and prediction of cancer along with improving the life length and survival of cancer patients through early detection of individuals at high risk.

About Kevin Dalby

Kevin Dalby has been interested in the “why” of chemical reactions since he was a student at the University of Cambridge, where he graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Organic Chemistry. This has led to his interest in the processes of cell signaling, and ultimately to cancer research. Dr. Dalby’s research areas include biochemistry, cancer, cell biology, chemical biology, drug discovery & diagnostics, and enzymology.