Early detection is a key to cure diseases. And when you have cancer, it is best to know as early as possible.
This is why devices to detect cancerous tissues are important. Just like the tool called MasSpec Pen, which is handheld and able to identify cancer in only 10 seconds.
Developed by researchers at University of Texas Austin, the device speeds the testing process by as much as 150 times. Not only that, it should also make the surgery to remove a tumor more accurate.
Photo by UT Austin
According to Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, an assistant professor of chemistry at UT Austin who led the research, “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.’
“It’s just heartbreaking when that’s not the case. But our technology could vastly improve the odds that surgeons really do remove every last trace of cancer during surgery,” she added.
The MasSpec Pen works by placing it over a suspect tissue, allowing a drop of water to be released which absorbs molecules. The tainted water is forwarded by the pen to a machine called mass spectrometer, which analyzes the molecules and tells if there is a cancer in the patient.
Photo by UT Austin
It is worth noting that each type of cancer has its own molecular structures that acts as a “fingerprint.” This is identified in the mass spectrometer, with results being shown on a computer screen.
James Suliburk, a collaborator of the project and head of endocrine surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, said, “Any time we can offer the patient a more precise surgery, a quicker surgery or a safer surgery, that’s something we want to do.
“This technology does all three. It allows us to be much more precise in what tissue we remove and what we leave behind.”
Video by UT Austin
Tests were already made. And according to the study’s abstract, after testing 253 human cancer patients, it showed 96% accuracy in showing the results in just 10 seconds.
Now the MasSpec Pen has been filed U.S. patent applications and awaiting full approval.