This small paper could revolutionise cancer tests

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Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are currently developing a new simple cancer-detecting test kit that’s similar to the home pregnancy test kit and could revolutionise cancer tests in developing countries.

The test kit works quite simply; patients are injected with a diagnostic that produces a synthetic biomarker in the urine and are then required to pee on a paper strip similar to a home pregnancy test that could detect the presence of diseased tissues.

A similar concept was tested out back in 2012 MIT professor, Sangeeta Bhatia, but it was too expensive and highly specialised.

“When we invented this new class of synthetic biomarker, we used a highly specialized instrument to do the analysis,” Bhatia told MIT News, “For the developing world, we thought 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.”

Bhatia and her team of engineers recently received a grant from MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation to help them get started with trial tests with patients and develop a business plan for a startup that could commercialise the technology.

The test will most likely first be tested within high-risk populations, such as people who’ve had cancer before, or had a relative with the disease. Bhatia does however hope to see it used for early detection throughout developing nations.

[Source:, Image: Bryce Vickmark]



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