A new study shows that about 90% of volunteers who donated a urine sample to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine had specific metabolic profiles for three distinct conditions: cardiac events, and breast and prostate cancer. All of these urinary patterns appeared before the diseases’ subsequent symptoms and medical diagnoses.
The study titled, “Metabolic Profiling with Magnetic Resonance Mass Spectrometry and a Human Urine Bank: Profiles for Aging, Sex, Heart Disease, Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer,” was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
Metabolic profiling is the measurement of low molecular weight metabolites and their intermediates, which shows dynamic responses to certain stimuli, both in normal and diseased conditions.
The concept appeared in the late 1960s and continued throughout the ’70s, based largely on the work of Arthur Robinson. Robinson discovered the existence of metabolic profiles for many conditions, including multiple sclerosis and Huntington’s disease. Unfortunately, due to limited resources at the time, progress on the research stalled.
Nowadays, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine has a urine sample bank to which 5,000 volunteers periodically contribute urine specimens and medical histories. As time goes by, samples from patients who develop a medical event of interest accumulate. These are then quantitatively analyzed by magnetic resonance mass spectrometry (MRMS).
MRMS simultaneously quantifies over 800 molecular urinary components of human metabolic origin. Using this technique, researchers examined profiles for aging, sex, heart disease, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
The profiles for age and sex were not very powerful analytically, particularly because researchers were looking at chronological age instead of physiological age, which had a higher impact on metabolism.
However, there is a 99.99% chance that the team identified a profile predictive of a subsequent cardiac event. In the case of breast or prostate cancer, there’s a 94% and 97% probability, respectively, that patterns predictive of disease have been identified.
Of 21 patients who experienced a cardiac event four to 30 months after contributing a urine specimen, 16 hadn’t had any type of cardiovascular condition prior to providing the urine sample. Only five had experienced earlier heart problems.
“The relatively strong cardiac event profile might be anticipated because a deteriorating heart would be expected to have especially widespread consequences in metabolic processes,” the team explained.
This supports the predictive “power” of metabolic profiles, which is of major importance considering that about 27% of Americans die from heart disease.
Quantitive health monitoring and evaluating clinical interventions can be facilitated by an individual patient’s urine samples over time, the researchers noted.
Researchers hope to develop an affordable $5 test that measures common metabolic products. Such profiles could have strong potential for preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic medicine. Currently, MRMS is solely a research technique.