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Scientists Are Working on a Urine Test for Cancer

A team of Imperial and MIT engineers has developed a urine test that changes color to signify growing tumors.

Blue Urine / Image: Getty
Blue Urine / Image: Getty

Early detection is vital when it comes to battling cancer, but most cancer screening options require expensive equipment and trips to the clinic, which are time consuming and nearly impossible in rural or developing countries. The developing field of point-of-care diagnostics offers cheaper, faster, and easier options. A recent ScienceDaily article relayed the latest development in cancer screening technology: a point-of-care cancer test that produces a color change in urine to signal tumor growth.

A pair of engineering labs, MIT and Imperial, developed the test and it displayed promising results in a mouse study. It works by injecting nanosensors into a subject that are then cut up by enzymes released by a tumor. Once they’re broken up, the nanosensors pass through the kidney and can be seen by a urine test that produces the color blue. The technique was tested on mice with colon cancer, and the urine of the mice became bright blue relative to samples taken from healthy mice. The concept has a ways to go before it’s ready for human application, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

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