Have Cancer? A Paper Strip May Tell You

What would you think if you could find out from a simple paper strip, rather than an expensive and painful biopsy, whether you had cancer?

It's here.  According to smartplanet.com, a new test now exists that imitates a pregnancy test.  You simply urinate on the strip and rather than telling you whether you can expect a new family member in nine months, it says you do or don't have cancer. In minutes.

As someone who's been through many (positive) biopsies, this sounds like a dream.

The technology relies on nanoparticles, smartplanet.com reports, that interact with tumor proteins, which trigger the release of biomarkers that can be detected in urine. These are tumor proteins which help cancer cells escape by cutting through the proteins that hold the cancer cells in place, smartplanet notes. After these proteins are cut, the fragments accumulate in the kidneys and are then excreted in urine.

But the signals of these tumor proteins can be hard to detect so the team adapted their nanoparticles to be analyzed on paper using a method called lateral flow assay -- the same technology used in pregnancy tests.

I'll let smartplanet.com explain the rest as I'm not so much technologically literate. "These nanoparticles would be injected into high-risk patients with history of cancer before they’re asked to urinate onto the paper strip. 

"Once the peptides are captured by the antibodies, they flow along the strip and are exposed to several invisible test lines made of other antibodies that are 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, and that cancer tissue is present in the body."

I loved learning I was pregnant from one of these strips, but I'd be equally delighted to learn I didn't have cancer, too.

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