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Prostate cancer-detecting condom

Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/handing-out-blue-condom-6473745/

jnikola Aug 28, 2022
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A condom that changes colour if a prostate cancer biomarker is detected in semen.
One in eight men experiences prostate cancer. Most of them find it on time and get cured. However, not everyone remembers to go to the doctor, and do a regular check. Data say that prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in America, right after lung cancer. Therefore, new, easier and less invasive ways of prostate cancer screening are needed.
How would it work?
On the inner side, most of the condoms have a small amount of lubricant, while some even have an analgetic paste which makes you "last longer" by making your penis feel less. Along with lubricant and analgetic paste, we could add a two-component marker (specific-binding component and visualisation component) solution that would change colour if the threshold of a certain protein is found in semen.
A detecting-component that would specifically bind biomarkers could consist of antibodies or oligonucleotide primers targeting:
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
Although the PSA is the best and widely used serum biomarker for prostate cancer screening, his use in ejaculate samples is not straightforward. PSA is excreted by the prostate into ejaculate during ejaculation, making every semen positive for PSA. If PSA was to be used in prostate cancer detection, it should be used along with serum PSA levels or other biomarkers.
  • Prostate cancer antigen 3 (PCA3)
PCA3 mRNA and the TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion are known biomarkers that are tested in a urine sample to screen for prostate cancer. They are more specific for prostate cancer compared with PSA testing alone. Their use in combination with PSA could help reduce the number of (unnecessary) biopsies.
  • Alpha methylacyl A coenzyme racemase (AMACR)
Results from 2018 demonstrate that AMACR protein is detectable in semen ejaculate and that the higher AMACR levels are detected in cancer patients.
  • other miRNAs
For the visualisation, we could use fluorescent antibodies or oligonucleotide sequences, or something that would result in clearly seen color change if biomarker is present. The above-mentioned targets could be bound to the inner layer of the condom or present in the analgetic paste.
This could be easily applied to STD-s, too, like mentioned here.






Creative contributions

Dealing with the cost and the uncomfortable feelings

Povilas S
Povilas S Aug 30, 2022
I guess that the biotech required to equip ordinary condoms with for this to work would greatly increase the price of condoms (condoms of trusted brands are already quite pricey).
So I see two ways how this issue can be resolved :
  1. Governmental healthcare systems sponsor the production of such condoms, therefore their cost stays the same, the testing system could be made mandatory for all condoms that are sold on the market, or some condom producers could choose to implement this in all or some of their products.
  2. This would be an exclusive product that would cost (perhaps way) more than ordinary condoms, which you'd intentionally buy when wanting to test yourself.
The second option might be better because if all condoms had this implemented, you'd have that rather awkward moment every time after sex when taking it off. Do I have it or not?
If you have a stable partner, you're less likely to feel discomfort about this in front of them, you're likely to talk about this and even plan for you to buy the specialized test condoms. But if you don't and use them for casual sex, you're unlikely to want to test yourself in front of your partners each time.
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jnikola2 years ago
Very interesting point. It's funny how when I think of novel ideas, I rarely think of how convenient would be to use them. On the one hand, I completely agree with you. They should be available as a special series that you get or buy when you want to test. It's about your health, but not every product has to be medical and/or expensive. Some people would probably choose rather not to know, but to live the rest of their life in fear. On the other hand, the product could increase the healthspan of males if implemented during every intercourse, especially for people prone to prostate cancer (those above 55, for example), Therefore, I would recommend that when you get to 55, your health insurance cover the cost of at least one (if not more) of them per year.
You also raised the question of discomfort. It could be a visible colour change or a fluorescent light visible only when checked with UV. It could also be coagulation, dilution or some other physical change of the semen so that you can check it without your partner knowing. Also, an interesting point - if all the condoms had it, it would be normal to check it from time to time without (false-)alarming your partner.
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Povilas S
Povilas S2 years ago
J. Nikola We can surely rule out "every intercourse", condoms are not that popular. That's, perhaps, another reason to make a special series of test condoms rather than turning them all into test kits.
Regarding the second paragraph - that's the problem, if all the condoms were made into test kits, everyone (including female partners) would know that, so even if you hid after the intercourse in the bathroom to "secretly" test yourself, your partner would know the reason, so in the end, it doesn't give much of psychological comfort anyway. If only specialized condoms had the testing function, then it would be ok. You could use the test condom and hide what type it was from your partner if you wanted.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni2 years ago
J. Nikola I think those about 50 years of age should be using the specialized condoms during every intercourse. Here is why:
Figure 1 Reference: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301623400_Prostate_Cancer_in_Iran_Trends_in_Incidence_and_Morphological_and_Epidemiological_Characteristics/figures?lo=1
Figure 2 Reference: https://magesblog.com/post/2014-02-04-does-sexual-activity-change-with-age/
The incidence of prostate cancer increases dramatically after the age of 50. At the same time, the frequency of sexual activity decreases with a similar trend. Therefore, those above 50 should be distributed the special condoms during every doctor's visit, which will be covered by their insurance.
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Self-test for prostate cancer

Michaela D
Michaela D Sep 16, 2022
I agree that easy, non-invasive and ideally home tests would help prevent or early diagnose prostate cancer. How about developing a self-test, COVID-detection style?
The sample could be urine or semen, depending on which one is best for detection of prostate cancer biomarkers. Or it could be developed for both, for people that may find it hard to use semen sample (similar to nose or saliva tests for covid). It would be easier to use the existing self-test format that uses chromatography than to develop something entirely new on a condom.
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