JAN 06, 2024 11:00 AM PST

A Urine Test That Detects Cancer

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

A team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have designed a novel test that could allow for the detection of tumors in the lungs from a person’s urine. The team’s new test is described in a recent article published in Science Advances.

Lung cancer is going to become more and more common in low- or middle-income countries, which poses problems given the state of current diagnostic technologies. Currently, the main standard for detecting and diagnosing lung cancer involves the use of computed tomography (CT) scans. However, this technology can be expensive and isn’t widely available in areas where it is most needed, hence the need for new testing that offers affordable options that can be made widely available. Moreover, CT testing is also recommended for heavy smokers over the age of 50, though not everyone who should be having these tests is receiving them. And, CT scans can have a high false-positive rate, leading to higher rates of unnecessary, invasive testing.

The team’s new test is designed to be affordable, widely available, and minimally-invasive. Specifically, the team’s test takes a two-pronged approach. First, a person inhales nanosensors, similar to how they might use a nebulizer (this makes it easier for the test to be used in a range of settings. The nanosensors are designed with what’s called a “reporter” attached to them. The sensors are designed to “shed” these reporters when they come into contact with what are called proteases, a type of enzyme that tend to be very active in tumors, offering a specific type of biomarker for researchers to look for.

Then, these reporters will collect in a person’s urine. The nanosensors are also available in two different formulations that provide options for how to deliver the nanosensors to the lungs: in an aerosol form that can be used with a nebulizer, and a dry powder that can be used with an inhaler.

Sources: Science Daily; Science Advances

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
You May Also Like
Loading Comments...