Published: Thu, September 07, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Pen-like tool detects cancer in seconds

Pen-like tool detects cancer in seconds

"Exciting research like this has the potential to speed up how quickly doctors can determine if a tumour is cancerous or not and learn about its characteristics", Dr Áine McCarthy of Cancer Research UK told Professional Engineering. Over the years, we've seen research advances in the form of glowing compounds that light up cancerous cells and smart scalpels that offer visual and audio guidance.

A group of researchers from the University of Texas in Austin has discovered a great invention of a powerful handheld pen like tool, called as MasSpec Pen, which accurately detects the cancerous tumors so rapidly as in very seconds.

"If you talk to cancer patients after surgery, one of the first things many will say is 'I hope the surgeon got all the cancer out, '" says Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, an assistant professor of chemistry at UT Austin who led the team. "It's just heartbreaking when that's not the case".

Scientists have developed a handheld probe capable of non-destructively distinguishing between tumors and healthy tissue within 10 seconds, which could enable rapid cancer diagnoses and help surgeons remove all traces of malignant masses during operations. Taking too much healthy tissue can also be risky, raising the prospect of damage to muscle and nerve function, along with other painful side effects.

Although maximizing cancer removal is critical to improve patient survival, removing too much healthy tissue can also have profound negative consequences for patients. In 10 to 20 % of the cases, the results would be hard to interpret.

The instrument developed at UT Austin is claimed to be both much quicker and more accurate than current approaches.

"Cancer cells have dysregulated metabolism as they're growing out of control", said Eberlin.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 India launch confirmed for September 12
The South Korean company could bring the 64GB and 128GB storage variants of the Note 8 to India. Internally, it rocks the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa core chip and 6GB RAM.

The pen releases a tiny droplet of water after it is touched onto a suspected cancer cell. The researchers went on to show that the MasSpec Pen reliably identified tumors in living mice and importantly, did not cause any damage to healthy tissues.

The pen simply needs to be held against the tissue while a foot pedal is used to kick off the process.

The pen utilizes a minute drop of water for analysis and doesn't require incising of tissue. It is then sucked back up and analysed by an instrument known as a mass spectrometer, which can detect thousands of molecules, before doctors are given the results on a computer screen.

That identifies any residual cancer in seconds, with a monitor linked to the pen declaring "normal" or "cancer".

James Suliburk, head of endocrine surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, who worked with the team, said that the team could provide the patient a more accurate surgery or a speedy and safer surgery. This technology is the three. This pen allows us to be more exact in what tissue we eliminate and which one we leave behind.

The technology is now in its early stages so it won't be commercially available just yet but the team hope to carry out further trials next year. For breast cancer and certain other types, often the answer doesn't arrive until a few days after surgery, raising the possibility of repeat operations.

Like this: