Novel urine tests helps with early diagnosis of brain tumours

June 22, 2021
Novel urine tests helps with early diagnosis of brain tumours

A research team at Nagoya University, Japan, has demonstrated how a simple urine test can detect aggressive brain tumours, which is particularly helpful for efficient, early diagnosis of cancer. Urine tests are a non-invasive option that can detect cancers of the bladder, prostate, pancreas and even the lungs. In order to expand these capabilities to brain cancer, the Japanese researchers sought to exploit genetic material called microRNA. MicroRNAs are diagnostic biomarkers of cancerous tumours and can take on unique forms when produced by cancer cells in the body.

“Urine-based liquid biopsy hadn’t been fully investigated for patients with brain tumours, because none of the conventional methodologies can extract microRNAs from urine efficiently in terms of varieties and quantities,” said Nagoya University Associate Professor Atsushi Natsume. “So, we decided to develop a device capable of doing it.”

Read also: Urine test that predicts pancreatic cancer early developed

The device in question is fitted with nearly 100 million zinc oxide nanowires that is able to extract vast amounts of microRNA from urine samples as small as a millilitre in volume. Samples were collected from patients with brain tumours and a control group of non-cancer patients – analysis revealed that many microRNAs derived from brain tumours could be found in the urine samples in stable condition.

Further analysis of the expression profiles of the collected microRNA was then used to construct a diagnostic model to distinguish brain cancer patients, with a sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 97%; the malignancy and size of the tumours had no bearing on the results.

The researchers thus concluded that urinary microRNAs is a promising biomarker of brain tumours, and hope their findings will contribute to early diagnosis of other types of cancer as well.

“In the future, by a combination of artificial intelligence and telemedicine, people will be able to know the presence of cancer, whereas doctors will be able to know the status of cancer patients just with a small amount of their daily urine,” concluded Professor Natsume.

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Category: Education, Features

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