UK-funded scientists have discovered that a ‘sponge on a string’ pill test can identify which people with a condition called Barrett’s esophagus have a low risk of developing esophageal cancer and sparing them from uncomfortable endoscopies.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge gave 468 people who had Barrett’s esophagus a ‘sponge on a string’ (cytosponge) test and found that the cytosponge test together with additional laboratory tests identifies 35 per cent (162) of people with Barrett’s in the study were at a low risk of developing esophageal cancer.
This Sponge on a string could help diagnose cancer. It is of size of multivitamin pill. When swallowed, it travels to the stomach where the capsule dissolves and a sponge is released. In five minutes, the sponge can be pulled back up by the string. As it makes its way up, it collects cells along the esophagus.
It enables the doctors to diagnose esophageal cancer. This sponge on string capsule is easy to produce and cheap also. It is capable to collect 500,000 cells. It could help with early cancer detection and reduces the need for unpleasant endoscopies.
This could help save patients’ time, as well as reducing the anxiety and discomfort of having endoscopy tests. Endoscopies are expensive and involve putting a camera down the throat to collect a sample of the cells lining the esophagus for analysis under a microscope.
The study is published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.