In October 2013, a study in the journal ACS Nano revealed that a simple urine test could detect dangerous blood clots.
Researchers from MIT found that the test works in laboratory mice, an important first step along the road to making it available in the clinic.
The researchers administered an injection of specially developed nanomaterials, which functioned as a synthetic biomarker. If a blood clot was present, the nanomaterials were broken down, and peptide fragments could be detected in the mouse's urine.
"Our results demonstrate that synthetic biomarkers can be engineered to sense vascular diseases remotely from the urine, and may allow applications in point-of-care diagnostics," they said.
The test could be used to detect conditions such as deep-vein thrombosis, where a clot develops in the leg, or more serious situations where the clot is dislodged and moves towards the heart or brain.