Non-invasive screening tests for preventive healthcare

Benefits of using urine samples for health monitoring and diagnostics

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E-TRF analysis methods open up new opportunities for health monitoring and detection of serious disease. In this blog, Aqsens Health’s Chief Scientific Officer Janne Kulpakko discusses the various applications of urine in preventive healthcare and health monitoring.

Most of the aggressive diseases in the human body leave a detectable trace in the metabolism. These traces are not only visible in our blood, but also in our saliva, fecal samples, and urine. Urine samples are typically used for pregnancy and drug tests, but also in the diagnosis of diabetes, kidney diseases, or urinary tract infections. They contain a lot of information about our health, and yet their use in diagnostics is still somewhat limited. Now, Aqsens Health’s novel research suggests that urine samples have the potential to be used even more widely for health monitoring and diagnostics.

In comparison with saliva or fecal samples, urine has some unique features. As a nearly sterile sample, it remains unchanged in the fridge for a day and therefore allows for more flexible logistical arrangements, which again help in building larger-scale testing processes. As a sample matrix urine is exceptionally simple to analyze because it is naturally filtered by the kidneys, making its consistency clear and homogeneous compared to any other sample matrices. Urine is also easily available in sufficient quantities, and both the pretreatment process and storing are easy to manage. However, urine does not have the immunological properties of saliva, which naturally contains immunological components that react immediately if they encounter a pathogen. If immunological components are found in urine, it is a sign of an infection. 

What would be the biggest benefit of developing urine-based testing further? In our view, one of the most important gains would be the possibility for early detection of cancers, so that they can be treated before becoming lethal. As important is a testing process that does not require invasive sampling and is therefore more scalable for population-level screening purposes. These types of improvements in the early detection of cancers would be a significant step forward in preventive healthcare, and for example in prostate cancer screening, which currently relies purely on invasive tests. The diagnosis of urinary tract infections would also benefit from a similar advantage, as time consuming bacterial cultivation processes could be avoided.

When looking at the long-term monitoring properties of urine, there is also significant potential for it to be used, for example, for analysing the health of high-performance athletes, and the impact of physical activity and nutrition on their condition. The data from a urine analysis could quickly show whether the athlete’s body is in an anabolic or catabolic state or under stress, and the training regime could be adjusted accordingly.   

New research conducted by Aqsens Health shows that urine has the potential to be successfully used to monitor our overall well being and to screen specific diseases like prostate cancer. Each person has a distinctive metabolism that changes over time or according to our physiological condition. Aqsens Health’s fingerprinting method displays this unique metabolism in a novel way. 

Because most disorders, like tumors, are exceptions in our body, they have their own metabolic profile. The more active (aggressive) the tumors are, the more visible the profile is. Aqsens Health’s  E-TRF method measures these metabolic profiles triggered by different diseases while also detecting known biomarkers to further enhance the accuracy of the method. 

Urine has an incredible capacity as a sample matrix for the comprehensive monitoring of our health. However, to unlock the full potential of urine testing in preventative healthcare and health monitoring, further research and development are still needed.

Janne Kulpakko

Chief Scientific Officer
Aqsens Health