UK scientists have developed a device that can detect odors in urine samples to help diagnose bladder cancer.
According to a paper published Monday in the U.S. journal Plos One, researchers from the University of Liverpool and the University of the West of England in Bristol have manufactured a device called ODOREADER® that makes the detection of bladder cancer much easier and more reliable.
The device operates similar to a small microwave, a clinician can take a sample of a patient’s urine and place it into the ODOREADER® machine, flips a switch, and an interior sensor analyzes the gases emitted by the urine.
“It is thought that dogs can smell cancer, but this is obviously not a practical way for hospitals to diagnose the disease,” Professor Norman Ratcliffe from the University of the West of England said in a statement. “Taking this principle, however, we have developed a device that can give us a profile of the odor in urine. It reads the gases that chemicals in the urine can give off when the sample is heated.”
It takes about 30 minutes for the device to analyze the gas and produce a “profile” of the chemicals in the urine that can be read by doctors to diagnose the early presence of cancer cells in the bladder, researchers said.
The researchers tested it on 24 patients known to have cancer and 74 samples that have urological symptoms, but no cancer. They claimed that the device correctly assigned 100 percent of cancer patients.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that 2013 will bring 72,570 new cases of bladder cancer and 15,210 related deaths.
“Bladder cancer is said to be the most expensive cancer to treat, due to repeated scopes to inspect the development of the cancer cells in the bladder,” Professor Chris Probert, from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Translational Medicine, told Medical Daily. “Odoreader has the potential to dramatically cut these costs by preventing scopes.”
Prof Probert said the results were very encouraging but added: “We now need to look at larger samples of patients to test the device further before it can be used in hospitals.”
Odoreader: A diagnostic tool to stop a global killer
At the 2011 World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C., Prof. Norman Ratcliffe of the University of West England, discusses Odoreader, a portable, battery-powered, low-cost device for the specific diagnosis of a range of diarrheal diseases applicable to resource-poor nations. It can enable immediate clinical decision-making based on a definitive diagnosis.