At the XIII edition of the prestigious “Taobuk Festival SeeSicily” in Taormina, the special mention in precision medicine went to Manuela Costantini, a young urology researcher at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori Regina Elena (IRE) for the study on the use of the nose electronic (e-Nose) in the diagnosis of urinary tumors.
The results of the study, recently published in journals Cancers e Biosensor Basel, report the analysis by means of an electronic nose of the volatile organic compounds of urine, called volatilityma, of patients suffering from renal and prostate cancer, demonstrating that the electronic nose is capable of identifying “olfactory molecular fingerprints” specific to the type of urological tumor. The E-nose used in the study has a small chip of 32 electrochemical sensors made of organic polymers. As the sensors are exposed to the urine sample, the internal polymers swell, causing a change in their electrical resistance. The set of variations of each of the sensors produces a distribution of signals (urine-stamp), which can be identified through recognition algorithms, as a specific olfactory fingerprint. The method represents a promising test for the early diagnosis of urological malignancies: rapid, non-invasive, repeatable, inexpensive and endowed with high specificity and sensitivity.
Urological tumors are frequent and aggressive. Kidney cancer is the 9th most commonly diagnosed cancer in the population worldwide. Prostate cancer is among the most common tumors in the world, representing the 3rd most diagnosed tumor in the male population: estimates speak of more than 40,000 new cases a year in Italy, about one in 8 men is likely to get sick over the course of life. Fortunately, early diagnosis and timely medical intervention are able to reduce the mortality of these neoplasms.
“For the study we enrolled about 500 of our patients with prostate and kidney cancer – explains Manuela Costantini – who underwent surgery from December 2019 to December 2022. The control group consisted of 200 healthy subjects. The results turned out to be promising. In fact, for kidney cancer the level of sensitivity of the test, i.e. the ability to identify true positives, was 71.8%, while the level of specificity, i.e. the ability to identify true negatives, was 71.8%. 89.4%; for prostate cancer the sensitivity of the test reached 82.7% and the specificity 88.5%.”
“The e-Nose has enormous potential – underlines Giuseppe Simone, Director of Urology at IRE. – From the point of view of the liquid biopsy, in fact, it could be used not only as a screening tool for early diagnosis, but also in the prognostic field to evaluate the effectiveness of surgical or pharmacological treatment, or to predict any recurrences during follow-up up.”
At the “Taobuk Festival SeeSicily” top-level scientists and Nobel Prize winners for medicine discussed the latest frontiers of science such as biotechnology and innovative treatment tools based on genetic material and stem cells. “The awarding of this recognition which rewards our constant commitment to innovation is a source of great pride for us – highlights Gennaro Ciliberto, IRE Scientific Director – Now we will have to work even more intensely, expanding the case history and collaborating with other centers for validate the new technology and ensure that this type of investigation can enter clinical practice as soon as possible.”