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A simple urine test could detect ovarian cancer early, reveals study

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Researchers have developed a new method that could detect early ovarian cancer using urine samples

Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect as the significant symptoms often don’t appear in the early stages. It’s well-known that treating cancer early is the best way to increase survival chances. To make diagnosis more faster and accessible, researchers have developed a new method that could detect early ovarian cancer using urine samples.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University are working on a potential urine-based test to help detect ovarian cancer. They hope that the test combined with CA-125 blood tests, transvaginal ultrasound, and family history could enable early-stage detection, diagnosis, and treatment for ovarian cancer, a press statement explained.

Previous research identified thousands of small molecules, called peptides, in the urine of people with ovarian cancer. However, the techniques to detect these molecules are not cost-effective. This study, published in the Journal of American Chemical Society, used nanopore sensing which can simultaneously detect multiple peptides. 

Nanopore sensing involves “passing molecules through a tiny pore, or nanopore, and measuring the changes in electrical current or other properties as the molecules move through,” the statement explained.

The researchers used gold nanoparticles to partially block the pore. This will ensure that the peptides found in the urine of people with ovarian cancer, will “stick to the gold particle and basically dance around and show us a unique current signature,” they elaborated in the statement.

In this study, researchers identified and analysed 13 peptides, including those derived from LRG-1, a biomarker found in the urine of ovarian cancer patients. In the statement, study author Joseph Reiner said they now know what the signatures of the peptides look like and how they could be used to detect ovarian cancer at earlier stages.

“Clinical data shows a 50-75% improvement in 5-year survival when cancers are detected at their earliest stages. This is true across numerous cancer types,” Reiner pointed out.

Previous studies have also explored tests that can detect ovarian cancer early. For instance, a September 2022 study led by the Wilmot Cancer Institute, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, revealed a new type of technology that can capture stray ovarian cancer cells from a simple blood test and successfully predict ovarian cancer.

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