The Loh Down On Science

An invention that will let men check for cancer at home!

Mohan et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013.

Schematic representing binding of PSMA protein to a virus ("M13 Phage") that has been modified to provide two attachment sites (shown in red and green) for PSMA, resulting in a stronger bond. [Caption altered from original for clarity.]

Peeing on sticks—it's not just for women anymore!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, and a gender-equity update.

Women have home pregnancy kits.  What home health kits do men have?  None!  So far....

Fellas, say hello to the home prostate-cancer test!  It's in development by chemists at the University of California, Irvine.

Every year, 240,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.  But current diagnostic methods require a blood test.  And it's not perfect.  Some men who test positive don't even have cancer.
 
The Irvine test will let men pee on a stick, at home, whenever.  And it's really, really accurate.  It checks for a protein called PSMA, whose levels are elevated in prostate cancer.

To find it, the chemists modified a virus so that it's bristling with attachment sites for PSMA.  They put tons of these viruses on a plasticky film.  When PSMA in urine hits the film?  It hangs on for dear life.  The huge glut of proteins?  Easy to detect.

As to whether the wife is pregnant with triplets—well, that fun surprise will have to wait!

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