In a review article published in the journal Talanta, Ângela Carapito and colleagues from the University of Porto and Universidade NOVA de Lisboa evaluate the potential of urinary volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as biomarkers for bladder cancer detection.
Bladder cancer (BC) poses a considerable global health threat — and scientists are searching for more effective detection methods that can improve patient outcomes. A recent review published in the journal Talanta, written by Ângela Carapito and colleagues from the University of Porto and Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, delves into the potential of urinary volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as biomarkers for BC detection and staging (1).
The review focuses on two approaches: gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS)-based metabolomics, and electronic-nose (e-nose) sensors. The GC–MS research presented a wide range of results, with sensitivities ranging from 27% to 97%, specificities varying between 43% and 94%, and reported accuracies spanning 80% to 89% (1). The research identified 80 significantly altered VOCs in the urine of BC patients, spanning diverse chemical classes (1).
Conversely, e-nose studies demonstrated sensitivities from 60% to 100%, specificities from 53% to 96%, and accuracies from 65% to 97% (1). The research with conductive polymer-based sensors exhibited superior performance, followed by metal oxide semiconductor and optical sensors.
The review article revealed that GC–MS studies excelled in detecting early stages and low-grade tumors, offering valuable insights (1). These results underscore the potential of VOC-based diagnostic tools for early BC detection and staging, holding promise for improving overall survival and enhancing the quality of life for BC patients.
Because of its high specificity and sensitivity, GC–MS can be an effective analytical tool, enabling the identification of potential VOC biomarkers associated with BC, even at its nascent stages.
As medical science continues to advance, the review emphasizes the need for further validation of identified biomarkers and their classification performance. Future advancements in VOC profiling technologies hold the potential to revolutionize BC diagnosis, bringing us closer to a future where early detection becomes a cornerstone in the fight against this disease.
(1) Carapito, A.; Roque, A. C. A.; Carvalho, F.; et al.Exploiting volatile fingerprints for bladder cancer diagnosis: A scoping review of metabolomics and sensor-based approaches. Talanta 2024, ASAP. DOI: 10.1016/j.talanta.2023.125296