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
OCT 29, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 29, 2018
Here's How NASA Tests Martian Parachutes
NASA uses parachute systems throughout the solar system to ensure spacecraft land safely on other planetary bodies. One of the most prominent examples is M...
NOV 08, 2018
Videos
NOV 08, 2018
Will There Ever be a Cure for the Common Cold?
Will There Ever be a Cure for the Common Cold? Well, one of the reasons why the common cold is not being cured—is it’s so difficult to attack a...
NOV 26, 2018
Videos
NOV 26, 2018
How to get rid of jet lag
Have you ever gone on an amazing trip somewhere only to have it totally ruined by jet lag? Jet lag is what we experience when our internal clocks are throw...
NOV 28, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 28, 2018
Some Animals Thrive in Wildfires
We often associate wildfires with destruction and devastation, but horrendous damages aside, what happens to all the animals that inhabit those forests? As...
DEC 04, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 04, 2018
Learn How NASA's Apollo 12 Mission Escaped Double Lightning Strikes
When NASA’s Apollo 12 mission was preparing to launch on November 14th, 1969, ominous storm clouds began swarming the launch pad. Regardless, weather...
DEC 05, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 05, 2018
Stretchable Ultrathin Electronic Skin Produced from a Desktop Printer
Electronic tattoos or e-tattoos are flexible polymer patches that can sense and transmit electrical signals. e-tattoos have great potential in advancing medical prosthetics and human-machine...
Loading Comments...