This new nanowire device can detect cancer with a urine test | fitness | Hindustan Times
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This new nanowire device can detect cancer with a urine test

Japanese researchers have developed a nanowire device that can non-invasively detect microscopic levels of cancer markers in urine.

fitness Updated: Dec 28, 2017 09:57 IST
The presence of certain microRNAs in urine might serve as a red flag for serious conditions such as bladder and prostate cancer.
The presence of certain microRNAs in urine might serve as a red flag for serious conditions such as bladder and prostate cancer. (Shutterstock)

A novel nanowire device that is able to non-invasively detect microscopic levels of cancer markers in the urine, has been developed by Japanese researchers. It could aid in improving diagnosis and treatment of the deadly disease. The device was found with the potential to efficiently capture extracellular vesicles (EVs) from urine and potentially use them to screen for cancer. Previously scientists developed a test that “smells” prostate cancer from urine samples.

“The ongoing challenge for physicians in any field is to find a non-invasive diagnostic tool that allows them to monitor their patients on a regular basis — for example, a simple urine test,” said lead author Takao Yasui, from the Nagoya University in Japan.

However, the content of EVs in urine is extremely low, at less than 0.01% of the total fluid volume, which becomes a major barrier to their diagnostic utility. The new device — embedded with zinc oxide nanowires into a specialised polymer — was found to be highly efficient at capturing these vesicles.

“Our findings suggest that the device is indeed quite efficient. We obtained a collection rate of over 99%, surpassing ultracentrifugation as well as other methods that are currently being used in the field,” Yasui added.

Using the device, scientists were able to net over a thousand types of microRNAs, which are short pieces of ribonucleic acid that play diverse roles in normal cellular biology. The presence of certain microRNAs in urine might serve as a red flag for serious conditions such as bladder and prostate cancer, the study reported in Science Advances showed.

To test the device, the team compared the microRNAs of EVs isolated from healthy patients with those isolated from patients who were already diagnosed with bladder, prostate, and other forms of cancer. Compared with the standard approach, they found a substantially greater number and different types of microRNAs with just 1 milliliter of urine, the researchers said.

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