A No. 1 tool for early cancer detection

If Yinfa Ma’s res­earch holds up, pregnant women and those on probation won’t be the only ones asked to pee in a cup. Ma, Curators’ Teaching Professor of chemistry, has developed a non-invasive instrument for pre-cancer screening that uses urine samples to detect cancer in the body and predict the cancer’s type and severity using a group of biomarkers.


<div align="left" style="width:200px;float:right;padding:10px;"pre-cancer screening
Yinfa Ma with a protoype of a non-invasive cancer screening tool

Cancer is the second-highest cause of death among all diseases,” Ma says. “Early diagnosis of cancer is crucial, but not many people want to go to the hospital to undergo costly, invasive cancer screening.”
Ma’s research builds on existing knowledge of pteridines, compounds found within the body that serve as important cofactors to regulate the metabolism of cells. Ma found that six pteridine derivatives can be detected in urine samples, and that levels of some pteridines increase significantly if there is a tumor inside the body. Most importantly, Ma discovered that one molecule, called oncopterin, exists in the urine of cancer patients but not in healthy human subjects. Further testing for oncopterin, using different techniques, still is required.
Ma’s prototype instrument, appropriately called a P-scan, can be used to screen urine for oncopterine and the six other pteridine bio markers. The oncopterin level in urine can be used to determine whether cancer is going to develop, and varying levels of the six pteridines can actually provide a “fingerprint” of the type of cancer.
“I won’t give up,” Ma says. “I will continue to work on this project until we have succeeded and can market the instrument to save people’s lives.”

Around the Puck

By the numbers: Fall/Winter 2018

8,607 Students enrolled for the fall semester at Missouri S&T. Classes started Aug. 20. 91 Percentage of first-year freshmen who receive scholarships and financial aid.

[Read More...]

Making tornado alley safer

Growing up in northeast China, Guirong “Grace” Yan didn’t see many tornados in a country where the number of documented twisters is a fraction of those that hit the United States. But as her academic career took Yan to several postdoctoral fellowships and then faculty positions in Indiana, Missouri and Texas, the assistant professor of […]

[Read More...]

Living laboratory houses lead battery research

This past November, Missouri S&T installed two new advanced lead battery microgrid systems at the EcoVillage, a “living laboratory” that is home to S&T’s solar-powered homes.

[Read More...]

Partners for progress

An expansion of the partnership between Missouri S&T and Missouri State University will allow students to pursue a mechanical engineering degree on the Missouri State campus with courses taught by faculty from both institutions. Students began applying this fall. The program will begin in fall 2019.

[Read More...]

Chancellor search is underway

This past August, University of Missouri President Mun Choi announced the formation of a 23-member committee to lead a nationwide search for a chancellor at Missouri S&T.

[Read More...]