Nano-Yoghurt To Help Diagnose Cancer

Bacteria producing nanoparticles, taking form of a yoghurt,
can help diagnose diseases as cancer.
A new study has shown that nanoparticle-producing bacteria have the ability to simplify the diagnosis of cancer and other medical conditions. These bacteria take the form of a "high tech" yogurt. The findings have been published in the journal PNAS. The study is titled "Point-of-care diagnostics for noncommunicable diseases using synthetic urinary biomarkers and paper microfluidics."

Initial studies suggest that a spoonful of yogurt followed by a urine test could soon enable accurate, early disease diagnosis. This would make for a more palatable alternative to going to a hospital for a colonoscopy or MRI scan.

Scientists have designed synthetic nanoparticles coated with peptides. These incredibly small particles serve as substrates for cancer-specific enzymes. In the presence of the enzymes, called matrix metalloproteinases, the reaction products are excreted in urine and can be detected using a paper-based antibody test.

In early studies, the new technique successfully identified colorectal cancer and blood clots in mice. Until recently, the technology required injecting mice with the nanoparticles. However, researchers have successfully engineered bacteria in yogurt to produce the nanoparticles, which will make testing even simpler.