The research team from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a type of imaging probe that allows for earlier detection of acute kidney failure, a rapidly-developing condition that can be fatal.
The new renal probes, which have been tested in mice, are injected into the blood-stream. They "light up" when they detect molecular changes caused by the onset of acute kidney failure.
Associate Professor Pu Kanyi, who is from the NTU School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, said, "For patients who are critically ill, like those in the intensive care unit, every minute is precious in reversing a condition like acute kidney failure, which can cause a patient's health to deteriorate rapidly. Our molecular renal probes are useful because they follow the body's subtle changes at the molecular level and could help to arrest the development of the disease before it is too late—something current diagnostic methods are unable to do."
He said, "In our next phase of research, we need to focus on further refining the probes with urine samples from critically ill patients. We plan to do this by collaborating with medical institutions both in Singapore and overseas."
Aside from testing the probe's ability to detect signs of acute kidney failure, the NTU team also found that the probe has high renal clearance—more than 97 percent of the probes injected into mice flowed through the kidneys and were excreted as part of the urine.
This opens up possibilities of developing these probes as test strips for urine samples, making it a potential non-invasive way of checking for acute kidney failure in the future, he said.