The test is based on the detection of levels of an antigen in blood, a rise in the level of which beyond a certain limit can be counted as a bio-marker for susceptibility to breast, stomach or uterine cancer.

A Bengal institute has developed a self-check device that can indicate the possibility of breast, stomach and uterine cancer through a simple test at home.

The National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, has developed the device, complete with a pricking needle, strips (electrodes) that collect a blood droplet to detect the presence of a cancer-indicating antigen and a digital output screen that gives the reading. Developed in partnership with the Central Mechanical Research Institute (CMERI) — which is the laboratory of ICMR — the device can point at the possible existence of the terminal disease but can’t offer conclusive evidence. It must be followed by confirmatory tests. The device has just been successfully tested on a series of patients and NIT has applied for a patent.

The test is based on the detection of levels of an antigen in blood, a rise in the level of which beyond a certain limit can be counted as a bio-marker for susceptibility to breast, stomach or uterine cancer.

Normal healthy individuals have antigen HER2 concentration below 15 nanogram per millilitre in serum whereas patients with breast cancer show elevated levels of HER2.

Experts, however, said that the test was an indicator and can’t conclusively prove the existence of the disease. “Even if your HER2 level crosses the 15 nanogram mark, it doesn’t mean that you have cancer. It indicates that you need to get yourself thoroughly examined. An individual may have a higher than normal count with no cancer and vice-versa. But the device would indeed be useful for the high-risk group, especially those with a family history of cancer,” said oncologist Gautam Mukhopadhyay.


The institute claims that this is the first time that an antigen-based home testing device for screening cancer has been designed. The institute is exploring partnership possibilities for manufacturing the device, with Central Manufacturing Technical Institute, Bangalore which is a wing of the ministry of heavy engineering.



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