Electronic Tongues to Revolutionize Diagnosis of Bladder Cancer: Research

Islamabad (24th July, 2019): Statistics presented by the American Cancer Society (ACS) show that bladder cancer will affect nearly 80,470 people in America this year.

According to the ACS, approximately 17,670 deaths are estimated as a result of bladder cancer. Doctors have diagnosed that nearly half of these cases occur while the cancer is still in situ, whereas in other cases the cancer will have spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes near the bladder. At the time, the most common method of detecting bladder cancer in patient is to conduct cystoscopies and urine cytology tests. While the former is a costly method, invasive and reliant on how the operator performs, the other is not an entirely effective method especially, in its early stages. Moreover, cytology tests are usually prone to error as they are not the most efficient tool for differentiating between inflammation and malignancy.

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Therefore, researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), La Fe Health Research Institute  (IIS-LA Fe) as well as the Centre for Biomedical Research have set out to develop a noninvasive device that can harness the power of “taste-detecting” sensors. The electronic tongues are a voltammetric device that can mimic the mechanism of human taste by using a pattern information software and sensors to detect compounds. Generally scientists use it to observe food, water, wine and even explosives however, these tongues can be used to study samples of biofluid(s) to help detect diseases.

Thereby, the researchers have presented the application of these electronic tongues for the detection of bladder cancer at the 13th International Workshop on Sensors and Molecular Recognition, which recently took place in the Higher Technical Design Engineering School in Valencia. For this purpose, they have built upon prior studies that focused on revealing metabolic differences in urine of people who were diagnosed with bladder cancer with those who were not affected by the disease.

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While previous studies used the established metabolomic techniques such as the liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry as well as nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, to study the metabolic profiles for before and after surgery, the researchers have suggested using electronic tongues to test urine samples. Based on their data the use of electronic tongues may prove to be a more economical solution and easy-to-use technique. They will further aid in earlier detection of bladder cancer.

There are several trials that have received the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States for their use in the diagnosis and monitoring of bladder cancer, but none of them improves the results of a cystoscopy.

Javier Monreal Study Author

Moreover, co-author of the study, Carmen Martínez Bisbal states that the preliminary findings of the study suggest that “the shapes of current waveforms induced in urine through pulse voltammetry could allow, for a noninvasive diagnosis in the monitoring of patients with bladder cancer”.

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Also, because bladder cancer has a high relapse rate, it is considered increasingly significant to monitor patients regularly. Based on statistics, bladder cancer was the 9th most common malignancy globally in 2012, with about 430,000 diagnosed cases of bladder caner.


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