One in three people will develop some form of cancer. Fortunately, improved treatments and diagnostics have dramatically increased survival rates. But if we want to increase survival even further, we need to focus on detecting tumours as early as possible. The oldest form of medical diagnosis is the uroscopy. But could we apply it to population screening? All cells in the body shed DNA from time to time, and this ends up in the urine. This is also happens if you have a tumour. But in the early stages of cancer, a tumour is very small and looking for tumour-specific DNA among all the other DNA in the urine is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Using a microfluidic chip, we can divide the urine into many tiny droplets and chambers. In this way, we can easily see for each chamber whether there is tumour DNA by making it visible, and we can literally look at tumour DNA. Our hope is that this very small chip will have a big impact on population screening and, who knows, maybe on your life.

University of Twente; Jong-KNCV

One in three people will develop some form of cancer. The earlier cancer is detected, the better the patient's chances of survival. Nienke van Dongen uses microfluidic chips to detect cancer DNA in urine.

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