‘Pen’ Can Identify Cancer Tissue in Seconds During Operations
Researchers have been showcasing a handheld device that can diagnose cancer in tissues in 20 seconds, assisting surgeons as they identify which tissues to remove.
The pen-shaped device was developed last year at the University of Texas, and its creators are now showcasing its benefits as an aid to surgeons.
It hooks up to a much larger machine that is able to make the chemical identification, but the convenient size of the probe makes it perfect for use during operations.
“A surgeon holds the MasSpec Pen against the patient’s tissue and uses a foot pedal to trigger the automated analysis, waiting a few seconds for a result,” said a press release from the University on March 9.
“The pen releases a drop of water onto the tissue, and small molecules from the tissue migrate into the water.
“Then the device drives the water sample into the mass spectrometer, which reads thousands of molecules as a molecular fingerprint.”
So far the research team has only demonstrated successful tests in live operations with mice. They expect to start testing the MasSpec Pen during oncologic surgeries this spring.