Blood clots can be dangerous when they break off and travel to the lungs or brain, where they can cause a pulmonary embolism or stroke. But before this occurs, they are often hard to detect, especially considering symptoms vary depending on where the clot is located. But now, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a urine test that could help detect clots before they become an issue.
"Some patients are at more risk for clotting, but existing blood tests are not consistently able to detect the formation of new clots," study researcher Sangeeta Bhatia, a biochemistry professor at MIT, said in a statement.
The newly developed test, details of which are described in the journal ACS Nano, involves detection of the presence of thrombin, an enzyme that controls the formation of a protein called fibrin that patches up the wounds. The researchers injected mice with iron oxide nanoparticles, which interact with thrombin and leave behind fragments that can then be detected in the urine of the mice.
While the test has only been conducted in mice, researchers noted it could have applications for humans in the future, particularly people at high risk for blood clot, such as patients who are bedridden after surgery or those who visit an emergency department complaining of blood clot symptoms. A stick that you urinate on -- similar to a pregnancy test -- could be a way of administering the test.
"If a patient is at risk for thrombosis, you could send them home with a 10-pack of these sticks and say, 'Pee on this every other day and call me if it turns blue,'" Bhatia said in the statement.