A yoghurt treat followed by a urine test could soon be able to detect colorectal cancers, thanks to work done at MIT.

Professor Sangeeta Bhatia has developed synthetic molecules that act as biomarkers to detect cancer cells.

When consumed with yoghurt containing them, the molecules find their way to cancer cells where an enzyme breaks them down to small particles passed out with the urine.

All that is required to pick the particles is a small piece of paper.

While the molecules were earlier injected into the body, the new method was developed by modifying bacteria in yoghurt.

The test has been demonstrated in mice for colorectal cancer and liver fibrosis. With clinical trials in humans, the method could prove to be a simple, inexpensive way of detecting cancers.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), only 40% of people with colorectal cancer are diagnosed early due to low screening levels.