Scientists from the University of Parma in Italy have developed a chip that would be able to detect a suspected marker of aggressive prostate cancer in urine, which could make cancer testing easier and less invasive.

“If true, the detection of sarcosine in urine opens the door to the early stage detection of prostate cancer using a non-invasive method,” said Enrico Dalcanale, a researcher at the University of Parma.

The newly developed chip contains a special receptor grafted onto a silicone based wafer, which according to its creators can detect sarcosine in urine while ignoring other compounds not linked to cancer.

Dalcanale said that he and his research team are developing an updated version of their cancer detector that will allow testing for sensitivity and make the chip easy to use.  He added that patients could also combine the chips results with prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing, to get a complete and better estimate of ones risk for prostate cancer.

He also said that this same invention could be used to locate other biologically similar compounds found in drugs, neurotransmitters, painkillers, and antidepressants, and the cost of the chip would be in the same price area of a PSA screening.