Now, a simple chemical reaction to detect prostate cancer

Washington: A new, inexpensive method of detecting certain metabolites in urine samples has been developed by an undergraduate student in the US, which he claims can test prostate cancer more accurately.

Casey Burton from Missouri University of Science and Technology has developed a technique to detect metabolites that is less expensive than conventional prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer.

This approach does not require the use of high-tech instrumentation often used to detect metabolites. Instead, it relies on a simple chemical reaction as well as diagnostic equipment that is available in most health clinics.

Burton found that treating urine samples with a certain enzyme can determine the concentration of the metabolite sarcosine.

Enzymes interact with a substrate, or molecule, to cause a chemical reaction that can be measured through various analytical techniques.

This method for detecting the presence of sarcosine could be used to test for the presence of other metabolites that may be linked to various diseases.

Using the enzyme sarcosine oxidase on the samples produced the chemical compound formaldehyde. Through oxidation, the formaldehyde in turn produced formic acid.

From this series of chemical reactions, Burton was able to determine how much sarcosine was in each sample by examining the levels of fluorescence after the enzyme treatment. The more the samples fluoresced, or glowed, the lower the level of sarcosine.

Conversely, a decrease in fluorescence from the samples indicated a higher level of sarcosine.

Burton said his approach would be more accurate than PSA tests, which "cannot accurately differentiate between benign prostate conditions and active prostate cancer".

This method may be applied to other metabolites that may be linked to prostate cancer, he said in a statement.

The study was published in the journal Analytical Methods.


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