Speciality: Haematology Biomedical Scientist
Location: South East Coast
Location: North East England
Speciality: Medical Lab Assistant
Two new urine tests that may be able to improve patient outcomes for bladder cancer have been developed by the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. These could be a significant upgrade to the current available tests, which are largely either invasive, inaccurate or expensive.
Bladder cancer has a high mortality when compared to other cancers, and part of this is due to a difficulty detecting it. There are some tests for certain biomarkers, but they tend to have high rates of false positives. Common alternatives include inserting cameras into the urethra, an invasive procedure called a cystoscopy that can be unpleasant for patients.
In comparison, the new urine tests are able to measure a gene variant called V1 that is elevated in bladder cancer patients. The gene removes parts of the lining of the bladder, making it easier for tumours to grow there. It was discovered by Dr Vinata Lokeshwar, chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Medical College of Georgia, who also helped develop the new tests.
One of the tests measures levels of the enzyme that V1 creates, while the other measures the amount of V1 in a patient’s system based on mRNA excreted through urine. Between them, they are about 90 per cent accurate at detecting bladder cancer.
The tests are even more accurate when it comes to high-grade tumours, with a success rate of 95 per cent. Pilot studies have also found that the V1 test could detect these high-grade tumours as much as six months earlier than a cystoscopy could, which could lead to increased survivability for bladder cancer.
Having a simple, accurate urine test for this condition also bodes well for patient recovery, as it means recurrence can be detected early and easily. Given that roughly half of patients with low-grade bladder cancer and about 80 per cent with high-grade see a recurrence within three years, this is very good news.
Written by Martin Lambert
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