Researchers from the University of Liverpool and the University of West England have built the Odoreader, a new GC-sensor device that could aid the diagnosis of bladder cancer. This machine combines a gas chromatograph (GC) and a unique metal oxide sensor that relies on the scent of the patient’s urine instead of the traditional detection of cancer-associated proteins, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.

RELATED: Oncology Resource Center

A sample of the patient’s urine is placed inside the device and an internal sensor analyzes the gas emission from the urine. The specific gas compounds associated with bladder cancer are unknown, but the Odoreader creates a chemical “profile” of the urine sample.

A total of 98 urine samples were used to build and test initial diagnostic models. Samples were taken from 24 patients with transitional (urothelial) cell carcinoma and 74 controls presenting with urological symptoms but without a urological malignancy. A two-group linear discriminant analysis correctly assigned 24/24 of cancer cases and 70/74 controls. This data demonstrates an improvement on those reported by other groups studying headspace gases and also establishes superiority to current clinical techniques.

CASE STUDY: African-American Woman with Urinary Frequency, Bladder Discomfort

Currently, bladder cancer screening consists of detecting associated proteins or cells shed from the lining of the bladder in at-risk populations. However, no biomarkers can be recommended for clinical practice because of their poor sensitivity and specificity, except some evidence that they may be of use in monitoring recurrence or screening high-risk individuals.

Study authors concluded that this new device shows potential for bladder cancer diagnosis, but the data must be reproduced in larger studies.

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