Newly developed diagnostic pen can detect cancer cells in seconds

New cancer diagnosis device works quickly and reliably
Cancer patients usually have only one thought after their treatment, they hope that the cancer has been completely removed. Researchers have now developed a new technology that increases the likelihood that surgeons will remove the last traces of cancer. The new type of cancer detection only takes ten seconds and is very reliable.

The University of Texas scientists developed the so-called MasSpec Pen in their research work. This pen is able to scan tissue for cancer and then make a diagnosis within ten seconds, which is more than 96 percent reliable. The technology was also able to detect cancer in peripheral regions between normal and cancer tissue (mixed cellular composition). The experts published a press release on the results of their study.

Frozen Section Analysis takes a long time and can be inaccurate
The method currently used to diagnose cancer is called frozen section analysis. However, this diagnostic method is slow and sometimes inaccurate. The researchers explain that it can take 30 minutes for a pathologist to interpret a sample. This long period increases the risk of infection and the negative effects of anesthesia. For some forms of cancer, interpreting frozen section analysis is also extremely difficult. This can lead to unreliable results in 10 to 20 percent of sufferers.

New diagnostic tool is very accurate
In the tests on tissues taken from 253 human cancer patients, the examination with the MasSpec Pen took about 10 seconds. The diagnosis was also very precise (more than 96 percent). The research team expects the new technology to be tested within oncology in 2018.

Removing too much healthy tissue can create major problems
The new technology leads to more precise surgery and enables doctors to perform faster and safer operations. In this way, the scientists can also determine more precisely which tissue is removed and which is not. While maximizing cancer removal is critical to improving patient survival, removing too much healthy tissue can also have profound negative consequences for patients, the experts said. For example, breast cancer patients may have an increased risk of painful side effects and nerve damage in addition to aesthetic influences. In patients with thyroid cancer, speech ability may be affected or the ability to regulate the body's calcium levels in a way that is important for muscle and nerve function.

How does the new diagnostic pen work?
Living cells (whether healthy or cancerous) produce small molecules called metabolites. These molecules are involved in all important processes in life, such as the generation of energy, growth and reproduction, say the doctors. They also remove toxins from the body. Each type of cancer produces a unique set of metabolites and other biomarkers, which act as a kind of fingerprint, the researchers explain.

MasSpec Pen delivers results without causing tissue damage.
Because the metabolites in cancer cells and normal cells are so different, we extract and analyze them with the MasSpec Pen in order to get a molecular fingerprint of the tissue, the scientists explain. This simple and gentle chemical process enables the MasSpec Pen to quickly deliver diagnostic molecular information without causing tissue damage.

Pen compares diagnosis with a database of molecular fingerprints
The molecular fingerprint, which is obtained by the MasSpec Pen from an uncharacterized tissue sample, is then immediately evaluated by software and compared with a database of molecular fingerprints and recorded in it. The samples included both normal and cancerous tissues of the breast, lungs, thyroid and ovary, the doctors explain. When the diagnostic pen has completed its analysis, either “normal” or “cancer” appears on a computer screen. For certain types of cancer, such as lung cancer, the name of a subtype can also appear. (as)

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Video: A Pen to Detect Cancer (June 2021).