Most of the tests that doctors use to diagnose cancer — such as mammography, colonoscopy, and CT scans — are based on imaging. More recently, researchers have also developed molecular diagnostics that can detect specific cancer-associated molecules that circulate in bodily fluids like blood or urine.
MIT engineers have now created a new diagnostic nanoparticle that combines both of these features: It can reveal the presence of cancerous proteins through a urine test, and it functions as an imaging agent, pinpointing the tumor location. In principle, this diagnostic could be used to detect cancer anywhere in the body, including tumors that have metastasized from their original locations.
“This is a really broad sensor intended to respond to both primary tumors and their metastases. It can trigger a urinary signal and also allow us to visualize where the tumors are,” says Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.
In a new study, Bhatia and her colleagues showed that the diagnostic could be used to monitor the progression of colon cancer, including the spread of metastatic tumors to the lung and the liver. Eventually, they hope it could be developed into a routine cancer test that could be performed annually.
Revealing the presence of cancerous proteins through a urine test as well as functioning as an imaging agent, this nanoparticle-based diagnostic from the Bhatia Lab could be used to detect cancer anywhere in the body.https://t.co/6gKuFZHwpI
— Koch Institute at MIT (@kochinstitute) July 16, 2021