We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. To learn more, click here. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies. Cookie Policy.

Features Partner Sites Information LinkXpress
Sign In
Advertise with Us
ZeptoMetrix an Antylia scientific company

Download Mobile App

Handheld Mass Spectrometer Identifies Cancer Tissue in Seconds

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 19 Sep 2017
Print article
Image: The MasSpec Pen rapidly and accurately detects live cancer during surgery, helping improve treatment and reduce the chances of cancer recurrence (Photo courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin).
Image: The MasSpec Pen rapidly and accurately detects live cancer during surgery, helping improve treatment and reduce the chances of cancer recurrence (Photo courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin).
A team of scientists and engineers has invented a powerful device that rapidly identifies living cancerous tissue, giving surgeons precise diagnostic information about what tissue to cut or preserve.

“If you talk to cancer patients after surgery, one of the first things many will say is ‘I hope the surgeon got all the cancer out’,” said Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, assistant professor at University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX, USA) who designed the study and led the team, “our technology could vastly improve the odds that surgeons really do remove every last trace of cancer during surgery.”

The current method, Frozen Section Analysis, for diagnosis and determining the boundary between cancer and normal tissue during surgery is slow and sometimes inaccurate. Each sample can take 30 minutes or more to prepare and interpret by a pathologist, increasing risk to the patient of infection and negative effects of anesthesia. For some types of cancers frozen section interpretation can be difficult, often yielding unreliable results.

The new MasSpec Pen took about 10 seconds to provide a diagnosis and was over 96% accurate in tests on tissues removed from 253 human cancer patients. It also detected cancer in marginal regions between normal and cancer tissues that presented mixed cellular composition.

This technology also offers the patient a safer surgery. “It allows us to be much more precise in what tissue we remove and what we leave behind,” said project collaborator James Suliburk, of Baylor College of Medicine. Although maximizing cancer removal is critical, removing too much healthy tissue can also have profound negative consequences: For example, breast cancer patients could experience higher risk of painful side effects and nerve damage, in addition to aesthetic impacts. Thyroid cancer patients could lose speech ability or the ability to regulate the body’s calcium levels in ways important for muscle and nerve function.

Living cells produce metabolites and each type of cancer produces a unique set of metabolites and other biomarkers. “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. What is incredible is that through this simple and gentle chemical process, the MasSpec Pen rapidly provides diagnostic molecular information without causing tissue damage,” said Prof. Eberlin.

The molecular fingerprint obtained by the MasSpec Pen from an uncharacterized tissue sample is instantaneously evaluated by a “statistical classifier” software trained on a database of molecular fingerprints that Prof. Eberlin and her colleagues gathered from the 253 human tissue samples. The samples included both normal and cancerous tissues of the breast, lung, thyroid, and ovary.

The pen releases a drop of water onto the tissue, and small molecules migrate into the water. The water sample is driven into a mass spectrometer, which detects thousands of molecules as a molecular fingerprint. The disposable device requires simply holding the pen against the patient’s tissue, triggering the automated analysis using a foot pedal, and waiting a few seconds for a result.

In tests performed on human samples, the device was more than 96% accurate for cancer diagnosis. It also diagnosed cancer in live, tumor-bearing mice during surgery without causing observable tissue harm or stress to the animals.

So the process would be low-impact for patients and biocompatible. “When designing the MasSpec Pen, we made sure the tissue remains intact by coming into contact only with water and the plastic tip of the MasSpec Pen during the procedure,” said Prof. Zhang.

The study, by Zhang J et al, was published September 6, 2017, in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Related Links:
University of Texas at Austin

Platinum Member
COVID-19 Rapid Test
OSOM COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
Magnetic Bead Separation Modules
POCT Fluorescent Immunoassay Analyzer
Gold Member
TORCH Panel Rapid Test
Rapid TORCH Panel Test

Print article


Clinical Chemistry

view channel
Image: The 3D printed miniature ionizer is a key component of a mass spectrometer (Photo courtesy of MIT)

3D Printed Point-Of-Care Mass Spectrometer Outperforms State-Of-The-Art Models

Mass spectrometry is a precise technique for identifying the chemical components of a sample and has significant potential for monitoring chronic illness health states, such as measuring hormone levels... Read more


view channel
Image: The CAPILLARYS 3 DBS devices have received U.S. FDA 510(k) clearance (Photo courtesy of Sebia)

Next Generation Instrument Screens for Hemoglobin Disorders in Newborns

Hemoglobinopathies, the most widespread inherited conditions globally, affect about 7% of the population as carriers, with 2.7% of newborns being born with these conditions. The spectrum of clinical manifestations... Read more


view channel
Image: The novel test uses an existing diagnostic procedure as its basis to target the Epstein Barr Virus (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Blood Test Measures Immune Response to Epstein-Barr Virus in MS Patients

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological condition for which there is currently no cure. It affects around three million people globally and ranks as the second most common cause of disability... Read more


view channel
Image: The T-SPOT.TB test is now paired with the Auto-Pure 2400 liquid handling platform for accurate TB testing (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Integrated Solution Ushers New Era of Automated Tuberculosis Testing

Tuberculosis (TB) is responsible for 1.3 million deaths every year, positioning it as one of the top killers globally due to a single infectious agent. In 2022, around 10.6 million people were diagnosed... Read more
Copyright © 2000-2024 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.