The study, which was conducted by a team of nearly 20 researchers at the University of Alberta, has revealed that more than 3,000 chemicals or "metabolites" can be detected in urine.
The results are expected to have significant implications for medical, nutritional, drug and environmental testing.
"Urine is an incredibly complex biofluid. We had no idea there could be so many different compounds going into our toilets," David Wishart, the senior scientist on the project, said.
Wishart's research team used state-of-the-art analytical chemistry techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography to systematically identify and quantify hundreds of compounds from a wide range of human urine samples.
To help supplement their experimental results, they also used computer-based data mining techniques to scour more than 100 years of published scientific literature about human urine.
Wishart said that the study is particularly significant because it will allow a whole new generation of fast, cheap and painless medical tests to be performed using urine instead of blood or tissue biopsies.
In particular, Wishart notes that new urine-based diagnostic tests for colon cancer, prostate cancer, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, pneumonia and organ transplant rejection are already being developed or are about to enter the marketplace, thanks in part to this work.
The Human Urine Metabolome paper is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
--ANI (Posted on 06-09-2013)