The need for early cancer detection is undebatable as prompt screening often improves chances of survival. Scientists have now come up with a new technology that helps with cancer diagnosis through a simple urine test.

The researchers from MIT developed new nanoparticle sensors that can detect cancer through urine tests performed using a strip of paper, just like an at-home Covid test, making diagnosis simple and affordable for people.

"We are trying to innovate in a context of making technology available to low- and middle-resource settings. Putting this diagnostic on paper is part of our goal of democratizing diagnostics and creating inexpensive technologies that can give you a fast answer at the point of care," Sangeeta Bhatia, a senior author of the study published in Nature Nanotechnology, said, News Medical reported.

The sensors are designed to detect many different cancerous proteins, distinguish the type of tumor, and also evaluate how it responds to treatment.

"The nanoparticles are designed so that when they encounter a tumor, they shed short sequences of DNA that are excreted in the urine. Analyzing these DNA 'barcodes' can reveal distinguishing features of a particular patient's tumor," the researchers said in a news release.

In a study conducted in mice, researchers showed the nanosensors could be used to detect the activity of five different enzymes that are expressed in tumors.

They also found that by scaling up their approach of using the microfluidic device to analyze the samples, they could distinguish at least 46 different DNA barcodes in a single sample.

Researchers from Bhatia's lab came up with nanosensors after years of working on developing synthetic biomarkers for early diagnosis of cancer. Most often, naturally occurring biomarkers are rare and nearly impossible to find. Synthetic biomarkers work by amplifying smaller-scale changes that happen due to small tumors.

Meanwhile, Glympse Bio, a company co-founded by Bhatia, has completed phase 1 clinical trials for the diagnostic test and found them to be safe in patients.

"This kind of testing could be used not only for detecting cancer but also for measuring how well a patient's tumor responds to treatment and whether it has recurred after treatment. The researchers are now working on further developing the particles with the goal of testing them in humans," the researchers added.

cancer detection
Scientists have now come up with a new technology that involves cancer diagnosis through a simple urine test. pixabay