SEP 14, 2017 07:57 AM PDT

The Pen That Can Instantly Detect Cancer


Medical science often resembles science fiction, especially when new gadgets and technology aids are invented. Engineers at the University of Texas-Austin have come up with the most recent advance, a "pen" that uses mass spectrometry to detect cancer cells, in real time. Dubbed the "MassSpec" pen, just touching it to tissue can tell if the tissue is cancerous. It has tremendous promise in surgery where physicians need to know how much tissue to remove to get all of the cancer, but not too much of the surrounding healthy tissue.

It works by depositing a tiny drop of water onto tissues exposed during surgery. This water absorbs and extracts molecules from the area being tested and funnels them to an attached mass spectrometry device. Mass spec is commonly used in many labs for dozens of different applications; however, its use in surgery is groundbreaking. In seconds after the molecules are brought up from the patient's tissue, the surgeon knows which tissues are cancerous which are healthy. Knowing how much to cut and which parts to leave is crucial for better outcomes for cancer patients. While it's wise to be conservative and not remove too much material around a tumor, the goal in any cancer surgery is to "Get it all, " and this new device could be a key advance in making that happen
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
SEP 13, 2018
Videos
SEP 13, 2018
Antibiotics Are Still Being Over-Prescribed by Some Health Facilities
The opioid abuse problem continues unabated, despite public health efforts to curb the use of narcotic painkillers that can cause dependence and push patie...
SEP 20, 2018
Videos
SEP 20, 2018
A Plant 'Nervous System' is Found
Learn more about how plants communicate....
SEP 26, 2018
Videos
SEP 26, 2018
Sydney Brain Bank and CTE
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused by repeated blows to the head, results in a unique form of dementia that includes irrational anger,...
SEP 26, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 26, 2018
Do the TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets Have What it Takes to Support Life?
Among all the extrasolar systems astronomers have discovered to date, the TRAPPIST-1 system is unquestionably one of the most intriguing. Orbiting the host...
OCT 08, 2018
Technology
OCT 08, 2018
The SolarFlower is a Promising New Take on Solar Energy
Solar energy is a clean and renewable energy source with promising applications in the near future as solar panel technology matures. SmartFlower is an int...
OCT 11, 2018
Videos
OCT 11, 2018
The mystery behind why eating healthy is so expensive
Did you know that 36.5% of adults in the US are obese and 9.4% of the US has diabetes? It's not a secret that it's cheaper to buy unhealthy food th...
Loading Comments...