Researchers from the University of Utah (UT, USA) have developed a portable, quick screening test for liver cancer. With results available in 2 minutes, the new test is advantageous as it reduces result waiting time, does not require blood specimens to be sent to the laboratory and is portable and inexpensive – costing $3 per test.
The findings, published in Analytical Methods, demonstrated how the test could detect a biomarker for liver cancer, alpha-fetoprotein. The device utilizes a small plastic cartridge with a paper membrane that traps the biomarker from biological fluids; including blood, saliva and urine.
A droplet of gold nanoparticles is added to the patient’s sample which tags the biomarker and if alpha-fetoprotein is present a red spot appears identifying the disease. “The concept is similar to a home pregnancy test, but instead of flowing laterally, it flows through the membrane,” commented the lead author Jennifer Granger (University of Utah).
Through analyzing the membrane further, researchers were able to determine the severity of the disease and a patient’s response to treatment. In 2019, the team hopes to evaluate the new technology in Mongolia, a country that has a high prevalence of liver cancer.