A 3-minute diagnosis of cancer? That's what researchers from Durham University and University of Maryland hope to achieve with their new prostate gland test.
The test uses light energy to measure the level of citrate in fluid samples from the prostate gland
The new technique could provide the basis of a rapid means of detecting prostate cancer in the future.
Lead researcher Prof David Parker from Durham University's Chemistry Department and colleagues from the University of Maryland, USA developed the technique that measures the wavelength of light as it is shone through diluted samples of body fluids.
"Citrate provides a significant biomarker for disease that may provide a reliable method for screening and detecting prostate cancer, and for the monitoring of people with the disease," said Prof Parker.
"This technique could form the basis of a simple screening procedure for prostate cancer that could be used in outpatient departments at local hospitals," he added.
The new test requires only a microlitre of fluid and the sample can be easily measured in an optical instrument. Using samples from male volunteers, the researchers have developed a portable instrument that can give results in 3 minutes.
"Citrate is formed in cell metabolism processes which alter as cancers grow. The analysis of the citrate concentration of prostatic fluid can provide an accurate way to screen and diagnose prostate cancer," said Prof Leslie Costello from the University of Maryland.
"Since citrate concentrations decrease markedly early in malignancy, this technique makes it possible to analyse what's happening quickly in the early and treatable stage of prostate cancer. It shows much promise as a clinical tool," Costello added.