Detecting breast cancer has become easier with the new method of screening developed by the scientists of Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Using urine samples, the malignancy can be diagnosed and the severity of the cancer can be determined much before getting it screened using a mammogram. This new technique of urinalysis was developed by the researcher by using a P-scandevice.

The concentration of metabolites called pteredines can be detected using this device, which are present in the urine samples. The presence of these metabolites is seen in all the human beings, however the level of concentration may vary and the cancer can be detected if the levels are too high.

The level of pteredines keeps on increasing if the cancer is on a rise, according to Dr Yinfa Ma , Teaching professor of Chemistry at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

In the past, Dr Ma, has tested the urinalysis using limited samples and now plans to prove his theory in a larger sample size to test the effectiveness of his technique.

Making use of the P-Scan device will prove to be the most effective way of detecting breast cancer.

US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) is ensuring its availability in all the clinics across the country given that it is economically feasible for a larger group of people. Moreover, it is a non invasive test which can be performed easily during the routine physical examinations.

Clinical trial
As part of the investigation process, Ma in collaboration with Mercy Breast Centre and its commercialization partner Emergence Bio Screening of St Louis started a clinical trial.

It involved 300 breast cancer patients and 100 clinically tested individuals who have no history of the cancer. Ma is hopeful the study will be conclude within a year.

Using the p-scan device, the cancer would be detected observing the rise in the level of the metabolites much before mammogram confirms the presence. Dr. Ma would examine the samples of the individuals not knowing in advance which samples are of cancer patients and which are of healthy individuals.

Ma explained, “Mammogram technology is not sensitive. Some early cancer cannot be detected by a mammogram. If this P-Scan technology works, it will be much easier to incorporate into regular physical screening.”

He added, “A patient donates urine and 10 minutes later I have a result. If this works, it will be an amazing diagnostic tool.”

Working of P-scan
A capillary is used to pass a small urine sample into the P-scan device, to identify the different pteredine molecules by passing it again through a source of light.

Using a spectrophotometer, researchers can measure and identify the pteredines which are present in the urine sample. The rise in the levels can diagnose the presence of the cancer. Experts are optimistic, the technique may be useful method in detecting different types of cancer in future clinical trials.

“When we heard about this study, we were excited to be a partner,” said Dr. Roger Holden, Mercy hematologist and oncologist. “We know early detection is the key to beating cancer, and if we can detect it in the very earliest stages, before we can see it, there is such a potential for successful treatment and even new treatments.”

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