According to a recent Medgadget article, researchers at Japan’s Nagoya University have developed a urine test for brain tumors. It uses a nanowire assay that can detect specific extracellular vesicles in the urine that indicate the presence of a brain tumor, helping to improve treatment outcomes and allowing for earlier, non-invasive detection of brain tumors. The technique uses a simple well plate that has been coated with zinc oxide nanowires that extracellular vesicles are attracted to because of their surface electrical charge, and then fluorescently-labeled antibodies detect tumor-specific extracellular vesicles in each well.
The technology is based on the concept of extracellular vesicles that are shed by brain tumors into the bloodstream, which ultimately are excreted in the urine and provide various tumor hallmarks, from RNA and DNA to protein markers. The technique could allow for the early detection of different types of cancer.