A 10-second cancer diagnosis

03.29.18

A team of scientists and engineers from the University of Texas at Austin may have figured out a fast and accurate way to diagnose tumors using a pen-sized device, according to CNBC.

The MasSpec Pen can detect cancer of the breast, thyroid, lung, ovaries and brain with 96.5% accuracy, based on an initial test of over 250 patient tissue samples, said Livia Eberlin, an assistant professor of chemistry and the study's designer.

"What we developed is a handheld device that by touching the tissue, extracts molecules that are characteristic of normal or cancerous tissue. Then we analyze these molecules using a high-performance mass spectrometer and, using machine learning and software tools, provide a predictive diagnosis to the surgeon in less than 10 seconds," said Eberlin.

The current method for spotting cancerous tissue during surgery is called frozen section analysis, which requires that a sample be removed from the patient and examined under a microscope. That process can take 30 minutes or more, during which time the patient faces an increased risk of infection and negative effects of anesthesia.

The research team hopes to expand the pen's diagnostic capabilities to include all solid tumors. (Source: CNBC)


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