New Paper-Based Urine Tests Could Detect Cancer and Heart Disease

Diagnosing cancer and heart disease generally requires extensively trained personnel and expensive instruments. But one MIT research group that wants to solve that problem has designed a single injection and paper-based detection system they're hoping to ship them everywhere a letter can travel.

Sangee Bhatia's team developed a molecular detection system that brings a bunch of existing technologies together in a new way to perform this test. Once approved for use in humans, it'll work like this: First you'll get an injection of a nanoparticle solution that can bond to the proteins generated by cancer or heart disease. Next, you'll pee onto the test paper, and if a nanoparticle that's bonded with the disease specific proteins comes out, it'll hit the paper and change colors. So far, in Bhatia's animal studies, this paper-based detection system successfully detected colon tumors and blood clotting, and the hope is that it can be expanded to detect more diseases.

Bhatia sees a variety of markets for this technology. Ultimately she hopes it will help diagnose cancer in the third world, or anywhere where equipment and professionals are hard to come by, but she also sees the potential for it as a home diagnostic or in a clinic setting. But for the time being, if you're concerned about testicular cancers, a pregnancy test is still your best DIY bet. [PNAS via MedicalXpress]