JUL 13, 2021 7:00 AM PDT

Friend or Foe? New Cancer-Tracking Pen Guides Surgeons.

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Researchers have developed the first diagnostic “pen” that acts as a guide for surgeons, helping them distinguish cancerous tissues from healthy ones in real-time. This technology, named the MasSpec Pen, is over 100 times faster than current methodologies for checking whether surgeons have successfully removed all the malignant tissues, giving patients the best chances of positive outcomes.

University of Texas at Austin researcher, Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, who led the team of innovators that created the MasSpec Pen said: “These results show the technology works in the clinic for surgical guidance,” adding that it’s easy to integrate the use of the Pen into existing surgical workflows.

Surgeons walk a fine line when it comes to removing cancerous tissues in critical organs such as the pancreas—cutting out too much of the organ can compromise patients’ health, while not removing the tumor entirely opens up the risk of relapse.

To develop the MasSpec Pen, Eberlin and colleagues performed tissue analyses in over 150 human pancreatic tissues in biobanks. They then validated the device in over 150 cancer surgery procedures.

“Surgery of the pancreas is a very complex and detailed surgery that requires numerous intraoperative decisions over several hours that can have long-lasting effects on oncologic outcomes for patients with pancreas cancer,” explained George Van Buren, a surgeon and researcher who performed the validation experiments detailed in the study.

“The MasSpec Pen technology opens the door for real-time, precision medicine to be performed in the operating room at a level that has never been seen before.”

This groundbreaking new medical technology could be the light at the end of the tunnel for patients diagnosed with certain types of pancreatic cancer such as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, which are aggressive, spread rapidly, and are associated with poor survival rates.

 

 

Sources: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, UT News.


 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
APR 13, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
A Color-Changing "Invisible Tattoo" for Long-Term Health Monitoring
APR 13, 2021
A Color-Changing "Invisible Tattoo" for Long-Term Health Monitoring
German researchers have developed an innovative method for continuously tracking and monitoring biomarkers and drugs cir ...
APR 13, 2021
Cardiology
Can a Ketosis Metabolite Act as a Biomarker for Cardiovascular Diseases?
APR 13, 2021
Can a Ketosis Metabolite Act as a Biomarker for Cardiovascular Diseases?
Quick and reliable diagnostics are the key to controlling many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Biomarkers ar ...
APR 29, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Can We Diagnose Disease Based on How "Sticky" Cells Are?
APR 29, 2021
Can We Diagnose Disease Based on How "Sticky" Cells Are?
How “sticky” cells are, or their viscosity, holds a wealth of information about their health and functionali ...
MAY 06, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Sweat Sensor Can Tell If a Storm's Coming
MAY 06, 2021
Sweat Sensor Can Tell If a Storm's Coming
A surge of pro-inflammatory cytokines, intense, and sustained inflammation leading to organ damage and a high risk of de ...
AUG 09, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Middle Eastern Data Fills in Some Knowledge Gaps on Human Genetics
AUG 09, 2021
Middle Eastern Data Fills in Some Knowledge Gaps on Human Genetics
Although the human genome has basically the same genes from one person to the next, there is a huge amount of variation ...
AUG 17, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Delays in Breast Cancer Diagnoses Among Black Women
AUG 17, 2021
Delays in Breast Cancer Diagnoses Among Black Women
Thanks to breakthrough diagnostic technologies, we can now catch the early warning signs of breast cancer much faster th ...
Loading Comments...