SEP 14, 2017 7:57 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
OCT 22, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
NASA Looks to Nuclear Fusion for Powering Deep Space Missions
OCT 22, 2020
NASA Looks to Nuclear Fusion for Powering Deep Space Missions
Nuclear fusion is the frontier of energy research, and NASA has a plan to bring this state-of-the-art power source to th ...
NOV 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
300 Million Planets in the Milky Way May Be Habitable
NOV 06, 2020
300 Million Planets in the Milky Way May Be Habitable
Researchers have found that there could be at least 300 million habitable worlds in the Milky Way galaxy. This could mea ...
DEC 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
DEC 12, 2020
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
Astronomers from Serbia have found that invisible structures created by gravitational interaction in our Solar System ge ...
MAR 14, 2021
Immunology
How Are Allergies Developed?
MAR 14, 2021
How Are Allergies Developed?
You might have experienced it yourself or met someone that can not eat a certain food or can not take a specific medicat ...
JUL 05, 2021
Plants & Animals
Why Are Some Fish Warm-Blooded? A Need for Speed
JUL 05, 2021
Why Are Some Fish Warm-Blooded? A Need for Speed
Great white sharks are warm-blooded, and new research helps explain why.
JUL 22, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Telescope Riding a Balloon Could Replace Hubble
JUL 22, 2021
Telescope Riding a Balloon Could Replace Hubble
The Earth's atmosphere often muffles views from ground-based telescopes when observing space. Now, a research c ...
Loading Comments...