They Design New Electronic Languages ​​to Help the Early Detection and Monitoring of Bladder Cancer

bladder cancer

A team from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), the La Fe Health Research Institute (IIS-La Fe) and the Biomedical Research Center for Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine Network (CIBER-BBN), under the Health Institute Carlos III, has developed a new non-invasive method to help early detection and monitoring of bladder cancer.

The method is based on the use of voltammetric electronic languages; It is a low-cost technology, the application of which could contribute to detecting the pathology in its earliest stages, with a small urine sample. In addition, the signal processing can be done immediately by a personal computer, so the results are instantaneous and its application would reduce the waiting times of the diagnosis.

Según la Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC), en España se diagnostica unos 12.200 casos anuales de cáncer de vejiga; 357.000 en todo el mundo. La incidencia en nuestro país es de las más altas del mundo; es el cuarto tumor más frecuente en hombres, tras los de pulmón, próstata y colorrectales. Y es el quinto tumor más frecuente en hombres en los países desarrollados. Se trata de un tipo de cáncer que, además, presenta una elevada tasa de recurrencia, por lo que tras la eliminación del tumor el paciente será incluido en un protocolo de seguimiento, que de manera estándar suele incluir visitas y pruebas cada tres meses.

Cystoscopy and urinary cytology are the most commonly used current tests for the diagnosis and monitoring of bladder cancer. However, on the one hand, urinary cytology has low sensitivity in the detection of low-grade tumors, and on the other, cystoscopy is invasive, of high cost, and its result is operator-dependent. In addition, cytology has limitations in the differentiation between inflammation and malignant lesions, and in the diagnosis of carcinoma in situ , which is a tumor considered at high risk of progression.

“There are several trials that have received FDA approval – United States Food and Drug Administration – for use in the diagnosis and monitoring of bladder cancer, but none of them improves the results of cystoscopy,” says Javier Monreal , one of the authors of the project and PhD student of the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Together with him, Mª Carmen Martínez Bisbal and Miguel Alcañiz Fillos, researchers from the Interuniversity Institute for Molecular Recognition and Technological Development (IDM) at the UPV, and Alberto Ferrer Riquelme, from the GIEM Multivariate Statistical Engineering Group, also participate in the work.

“The preliminary results of this study, with a 75% success rate, indicate that the current waveforms induced in urine by pulse voltammetry could allow, with adequate data processing, non-invasive follow-up diagnosis of bladder cancer patients, ”says Mª Carmen Martínez Bisbal.

The UPV researchers presented this work in the framework of the XIII International Workshop on Sensors and Molecular Recognition , held at the Higher Technical School of Design Engineering (ETSID).

Electronic languages

Electronic languages ​​are analytical systems that offer information that can be related to specific compounds present in a sample or to a quality of the sample being studied. They allow the classification of complex samples by characterizing their physicochemical parameters and have applications in the analysis of food, water quality, wines, explosives and biofluids for disease detection.

Mixed Unit of Nanomedicine and Sensors UPV-La Fe

This study is part of the research line of bladder cancer biomarkers currently under development in the Mixed Unit of Nanomedicine and Sensors (La Fe Health Research Institute – UPV) in collaboration with Dr. José Luis Ruiz-Cerdá , co-director of the Unit, together with the director of the IDM Institute and the CIBER-BBN, Ramón Martínez-Máñez.

Research papers of this Unit recently published in Cancers and Scientific Reports magazines  indicate the existence of differences in the urine metabolomic profile of patients with bladder cancer before and after surgery. These changes have been observed by metabolomic techniques (UPLC-MS and NMR spectroscopy). In this context, the use of voltammetric electronic language in this type of samples could be a new method of simple use and low cost.