Tears Can Tell If You Have Gout

Researchers in South Korea have developed a non-invasive technique that could help diagnose gout using the molecules of a teardrop.

AsianScientist (May 11, 2017) – Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a test for gout that requires only a single teardrop from the patient. These results have been published in ACS Nano.

The research team led by Professor Jeong Ki-Hun of the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering succeeded in developing an affordable and elaborate gout diagnostic strip by depositing metal nanoparticles on paper. This technology can not only be used in diagnostic medicine and drug testing, but also in other areas that require prompt and accurate detection of a certain substance, such as field diagnostics.

Gout induces pain in joints due to needle-shaped uric acid crystal build up. Therapeutic options aim to administer pain relief, stimulate uric acid discharge or reduce the levels of uric acid. Such treatments work for temporary relief, but have significant limitations. Thus, patients are required to control their diets and regularly check their uric acid concentrations.

Existing gout diagnostic techniques include measuring uric acid concentrations from blood samples or observing uric acid crystals from joint synovial fluid under a microscope. These existing methods are invasive and time consuming. Instead, the researchers exploited the nanoplasmonic properties of gold nanoislands uniformly deposited on paper to make measuring uric acid simpler.

Metals such as gold absorb light when irradiated and can be used to concentrate light. By modifying the gold nanostructures on a paper substrate, the researchers were able to enhance the surface-enhanced Raman scattering signals of uric acid in tears. This allowed them to measure the concentration of uric acid in teardrops at levels comparable to blood uric acid concentrations, all without additional indicators.

“Based on these research results, our strip will make it possible to conduct low-cost, no indicator, supersensitive biological molecule analysis and fast field diagnosis using tears,” said Jeong. “Tears, as well as various other bodily fluids, can be used to contribute to disease diagnosis and physiological functional research.”

“The strip will allow fast and simple field diagnosis, and can be produced on a large scale using the existing semiconductor process,” added study first author Mr. Park Moonseong.

The article can be found at: Park et al. (2016) Plasmonic Schirmer Strip for Human Tear-Based Gouty Arthritis Diagnosis Using Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering.


Source: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
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