A team of chemists at Brigham Young University have developed a remarkably simple and cheap lab-on-a-chip test that can accurately detect markers of serious conditions like kidney disease or even prostate cancer using nothing but a drop of urine the and the perpetual pull of gravity.
The device features a long and incredibly thin tube that’s lined with DNA sequences that will automatically hold onto disease markers in the fluid as it passes. So a drop of urine from a healthy donor placed at one end would flow freely through the entire length of the tube. But if it were to stop along the way, where it stopped would immediately indicate the presence of markers for certain medical conditions.
The types of DNA included inside the tiny tube could be customised for spotting different diseases. But in its current form the tube test actually has several advantages over existing prostate cancer tests in that it doesn’t require blood to be drawn (so it can be easily administered anywhere) and the results are immediate. Even more impressive is that the researchers have found this new test to actually be a more accurate way to spot prostate cancer, which should help expedite its progression from a lab experiment to the field. [Brigham Young University]