British researchers have successfully detected prostate cancer by means of a machine that “smells” the disease in a patient’s urine, according to UPI. The Odoreader, described as an “electronic nose”, is a diagnostic device that senses gasses associated with urological cancers, identifying any disease present in urine samples by means of an algorithm.
Fox News quoted Norman Ratcliffe, professor of material and sensor sciences at the University of the West of England as saying that: “[t]he positioning of the prostate gland, which is very close to the bladder, gives the urine profile a different algorithm if the man has cancer.” The researchers say that the Odoreader device was in part inspired by previous trials employing specially trained sniffer dogs to detect prostate cancer by means of scent.
The Odoreader is a simple process that is less traumatic for patients than other more invasive methods of detection. “There is currently no accurate test for prostate cancer, the vagaries of the PSA test indicators can sometimes result in unnecessary biopsies, resulting in psychological toll, risk of infection from the procedure and even sometimes missing cancer cases,” explained Professor Radcliffe.
Our aim is to create a test that avoids this procedure at initial diagnosis by detecting cancer in a non-invasive way by smelling the disease in men’s urine.
In preliminary trials, 155 men with symptoms indicative of possible cancers had their urine samples analyzed by the Odoreader. Of these, 58 were identified as having prostate cancer, 24 as having bladder cancer, and 73 as having other urinary problems but not cancer. The researchers are now hoping to secure funding to carry out more in-depth trials of the device. “If this test succeeds at full medical trial it will revolutionize diagnostics,” said urologist Dr. Raj Prasad.
An accurate urine test would mean that many men who currently undergo prostate biopsy may not need to do so.