Paper-Based Cancer Test?

Nanoscale agents that detect disease-associated synthetic biomarkers in urine could one day streamline the diagnosis of tumors, heart disease, and more.

By | February 25, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, TURBOTORQUEResearchers this week proposed a new technique for diagnosing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in which exogenous agents are injected into the body and serve as synthetic biomarkers that can be detected in urine using a paper strip. Testing their method on mouse models, the researchers were able to “detect diseases as diverse as solid cancer and blood clots using only a single injection of our diagnostic followed by urine analysis on paper,” they wrote in their paper, published yesterday (February 24) in PNAS. If the technique is successfully translated to humans, the platform could support the development of low-cost diagnostics that may be effective early in disease progression.

MIT graduate student Andrew Warren and his colleagues developed nanoparticles that target diseased tissue, such as a tumor, at which point reporter compounds that had been bound to the nanoparticles are released and cleared into the urine. As a proof-of-principle, the researchers designed two synthetic biomarkers—one associated with colorectal cancer and another that was specific to blood clots, a common sign of cardiovascular problems—and demonstrated their ability to detect these compounds in urine from mouse models of these diseases using a paper strip coated with targeted antibodies, a strategy called paper lateral flow assay (LFA).

“Together, the LFA and injectable synthetic biomarkers, which could be tailored for multiple diseases, form a generalized diagnostic platform for NCDs that can be applied in almost any setting without expensive equipment or trained medical personnel,” the researchers wrote.

The team plans to develop the test for human use and launch a spin-out company to commercialize the product, according to New Scientist. If successful, the end result could be something analogous to a pregnancy test, with a line appearing on the paper strip if the biomarkers are present in the urine.


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Avatar of: RHKarpinski


Posts: 2

April 14, 2014

Take note of Jack Andraka who used cabon nanotubes and antibodies to mesothelin to detect pancreatic cancer before it is stage 4. He plates out the mix onto strips of filter paper and measures the resistance across the strip. Then if a drop of blood is added which contains mesothelin, it mates with the antibody and makes it larger, shoving the nanotubes around. Measure the increase in resistance with a simple ohnneter to detect a pancreatic (or lung or ovarian) cancer even in early stages when it is more likely curable. He won top prize in a science fair and has spoken at TED and many other places while still in high school. 

His test should cost a few cents and take only a few minutes. It is much more sensitive and accurate than the 60 year old expensive and unreliable test but it is not yet approved by the FDA. 

To develop a screening test for virtually all cancers that works like this, one company that works through Assay Depot estimates that it will take them less than $70,000 to make a similar screening test for nagalase. Such a test, including the one Andraka developed can also be used week by week to see that the chosen treatment is (still) working.

This would make curing the cancer much more reliable since if one treatment fails, one of the "forbidden" cures can be substituted and tested the next week. In particular the GcMAF plus Oleic Acid seems particularly robust. See American Journal of Immunology 10 (1): 23-32, 2014 for details including 25% reduction of tumor volume in the first week.


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