A newly designed “pen” device can detect cancer cells within a matter of seconds to help surgeons more fully remove tumors, according to an NBC News report.
The MasSpec Pen is designed to use a drop of water to make its analysis in real time, and does not require cutting any tissue, according to the report.
Research on the device was recently published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
“If you talk to cancer patients after surgery, one of the 1st things many will say is ‘I hope the surgeon got all the cancer out. It’s just heartbreaking when that’s not the case. But our technology could vastly improve odds that surgeons really do remove every last trace of cancer during surgery,” Livia Eberlin, who led the team that worked on the device, told NBC News.
The device, which includes a pen and a mass spectrometer, has been reported to be 96% accurate, according to the report. The pen was tested on more than 250 tumor samples and calibrated to the molecular signature of each tumor.
“Cancer cells have dysregulated metabolism as they’re growing out of control. Because the metabolites in cancer and normal cells are so different, we extract and analyze them with the MasSpec Pen to obtain a molecular fingerprint of the tissue,” Eberlin told NBC News.
The MasSpec Pen could cut long wait times currently required when getting cancer diagnosed from frozen samples, which involve highly skilled pathologists, according to the report.
Researchers said that the device will require more testing before it can be validated.