MasSpec Pen Identifies Cancer During Surgery in Real Time

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a diagnostic tool capable of identifying cancer 150x faster than existing technology.

Cancer Diagnostic Pen / Image: UT Austin
Cancer Diagnostic Pen / Image: UT Austin

When a surgeon is removing cancerous tissue, it can be difficult to decipher the benign from the malignant. According to a recent UT News article, scientists at UT Austin have developed a pen that gives surgeons precise diagnostic information about what tissue to cut or preserve. The device is called the MasSpec Pen, and it could help improve treatment and reduce the chances of cancer recurrence.

Living cells produce tiny molecules called metabolites that are responsible for certain cell functions. Each type of cancer creates a unique set of metabolites and this device identifies them as biomarkers to distinguish between good and bad tissue. Tests performed on human samples yielded 96% accuracy for cancer diagnosis. You can see a 1-minute video illustrating how the pen works here.

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