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This Pen Can Diagnose Cancer in 10 Seconds

This Pen Can Diagnose Cancer in 10 Seconds
From TIME - September 6, 2017

When it comes to treating cancer, surgeons want to get rid of as much cancerous tissue as possible during tumor removal. Now a new technologythe size of a penis attempting to make that easier by distinguishing between tumors and healthy tissue in just 10 seconds.

TheMasSpec Pen is a real-time diagnostic tool created by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers report that their handheld device (which is not yet FDA-approved) uses tiny droplets of water to analyze human tissue samples for cancer with 96% accuracy.

Its a gentle, simple chemical process, saysstudy authorLivia Schiavinato Eberlin , an assistant professor of chemistry at UT Austin. Its highly specific and highly sensitive. The fact that its non-destructive brings a new approach to cancer diagnosis.

MORE: Researchers Find a Way to Light Up Cancer Cells

Getting rid of all cancerous tissue while also preventing any harm to healthy tissue is a delicate process. When operating on a woman with breast cancer, for example, a doctor needs to remove the tumor and other affected tissues while maintaining the rest of the breast. Currently there are other tools available to surgeons for tissue diagnosis, but many use gases or solvents that can be harmful for the human body. In 2016, researchers inMassachusetts reported that they developed a probe that can find and light up cancer cells, making them easier for surgeons to see. But other methods currently available to surgeons today are slower than theMasSpec Pen, the study authors say, in some cases by 30 minutes or more.

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