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Kit may offer fast and portable method for PSA screening


“We’ll be able to take a drop of blood in a community setting such as a barbershop and be able to deliver results in 10 to 15 minutes right there,” says investigator Saurabh Mehta, ScD.

Investigators from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York have developed a portable and rapid kit for use in prostate cancer screening.1,2

The kit, described by investigators in a recent study in Current Research in Biotechnology, uses a test strip and a small, cube-shaped reader to quantify prostate-specific antigen (PSA). A drop of blood is applied to the test strip, and in approximately 15 minutes, 2 lines appear on the strip. The reader device calculates and displays a measurement of PSA concentration based on the intensity of the test strip lines.

Saurabh Mehta, ScD

Saurabh Mehta, ScD

“We’ll be able to take a drop of blood in a community setting such as a barbershop and be able to deliver results in 10 to 15 minutes right there, which can indicate when somebody needs to come in for further tests. It’s creating that first point of contact that hopefully builds rapport and brings health care services to the people at the point of need,” said senior author Saurabh Mehta, ScD, the Janet and Gordon Lankton Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, in a news release.

For the kit, the investigators utilized a 150-nm-diameter gold nanoshell label for lateral flow assay. This was associated “with significant increase in the measured colorimetric signal intensity to achieve five times lower detection limit when compared to the traditionally used 40 nm gold nanosphere labels, without a need for any additional signal amplification steps,” wrote the authors.

The investigators used commercially available total PSA calibrators to optimize and evaluate the assay. A detection range of 0.5 ng/mL to 150 ng/mL was achieved on initial validation using the ACCESS Hybritech calibrator. Comparing the kit with IMMULITE analyzer for quantification total PSA in archived human serum samples, the investigators observed a correlation of 0.95 (P < .0001).

In the news release, first author Balaji Srinivasan, a research associate in Mehta’s research group, noted that the test strip format means that the kits have the capability to be mass produced and sold for a few dollars each.

“Another advantage of test strips is that the technology to make them really cheap or mass produce them has been around for many years,” Srinivasan said.

With the test kit, the investigators also sought to make PSA testing more accessible to underserved populations, such as African American men.

“There is a need for increasing access to PSA screening among African American men who are otherwise not able to get tested periodically, and one of the ways is we take the test to them at various community settings,” Srinivasan said.


1. Srinivasan B, Nanus DM, Erickson D, Mehta S. Highly portable quantitative screening test for prostate-specific antigen at point of care. Curr Biotechnol. 2021;3:288-299. doi:10.1016/j.crbiot.2021.11.003

2. Portable prostate cancer test may help reach underserved men. News release. Cornell University. January 4, 2022. Accessed January 7, 2022. https://www.newswise.com/articles/portable-prostate-cancer-test-may-help-reach-underserved-men?sc=mwhr&xy=10016681

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