The American Cancer Society projects the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths expected each year in order to estimate the contemporary cancer burden, because cancer incidence and mortality data lag three to four years behind the current year. In addition, the regularly updated Facts & Figures publications present the most current trends in cancer occurrence and survival, as well as information on symptoms, prevention, early detection, and treatment. Cancer rates in developing nations have climbed sharply in recent years, and now account for 70 percent of cancer mortality worldwide. Early detection has been proven to improve outcomes, but screening approaches such as mammograms and colonoscopy, used in the developed world, are too costly to be implemented in settings with little medical infrastructure.
The US born Sangeeta Bhatia at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a cheap, simple, paper test that can detect cancer. These diagnostic, which works much like a pregnancy test, could reveal within minutes, based on a urine sample, whether a person have cancer or not. The MIT media announce the major and amazing breakthrough in cancer diagonistics. These newly developed technology will allow non-communicable diseases to be detect at early stage, which will be cheap and easily accessible to the masses. For the developing world it would be exciting to adapt it instead to a paper test that could be performed on unprocessed samples in a rural setting, without the need for any specialized equipment. The simple readout could even be transmitted to a remote caregiver by a picture on a mobile phone.
The MIT professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Sangeeta Bhatia, who is also the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, invented a new class of synthetic biomarker, which is highly specialized instrument to do these kind of analysis. These paper test essentially relies on nanoparticles that interact with tumor proteins called proteases, each of which can trigger release of hundreds of biomarkers that are then easily detectable in a patient's urine. The MIT nanoparticles are coated with peptides (short protein fragments) targeted by different MMPs. These particles congregate at tumor sites, where MMPs cleave hundreds of peptides, which accumulate in the kidneys and are excreted in the urine.
To create the test strips, the researchers first coated nitrocellulose paper with antibodies that can capture the peptides. Once the peptides are captured, they flow along the strip and are exposed to several invisible test lines made of other antibodies specific to different tags attached to the peptides. If one of these lines becomes visible, it means the target peptide is present in the sample. The technology can also easily be modified to detect multiple types of peptides released by different types or stages of disease.
In tests in mice, the researchers were able to accurately identify colon tumors, as well as blood clots. Bhatia says these tests represent the first step toward a diagnostic device that could someday be useful in human patients. "This is a new idea — to create an excreted biomarker instead of relying on what the body gives you," she says. "To prove this approach is really going to be a useful diagnostic, the next step is to test it in patient populations."