Researchers are continually looking for new ways to detects cancer and treat it more efficiently and effectively. Through innovations and clinical trials, they see what works and what doesn’t. Currently under evaluation is the MasSpec Pen, a device that can detects cancer within 10 seconds.
How the MasSpec Pen Detects Cancer
Each cell has its own molecular recipe of proteins, lipids, and metabolites, and these patterns can indicate whether a cell is cancerous or healthy. The MasSpec Pen consists of a small, disposable device that connects to a much larger computer. During surgery, a doctor places the tip of the MasSpec Pen against human tissue and presses down on a foot pedal. The pen releases a small drop of water that sits on the area for a few seconds to collect these molecules from the cells.
The pen then sucks up the water, and the computer reads the molecular signature to provide a diagnosis of whether the tissue is cancerous or healthy within 10 seconds. Researchers are currently testing the MasSpec Pen on different types of cancers, including breast, pancreatic, thyroid, brain, lung, and ovarian.
Benefits of Using the MasSpec Pen to Detect Cancer
In the middle of surgery, it’s not always clear which tissue is healthy and which is cancerous through vision alone. Surgeons can remove the item in question from the body and study it under a microscope to reach a diagnosis, but they can’t put the tissue or organ back into the body after they take it out. This process can also take a considerable amount of time, which can increase the risk of infection.
The MasSpec Pen allows surgeons to determine what to keep in the body and what to remove within 10 seconds and with over 96% accuracy. This reduces unnecessary tissue removal and the risk of cancer recurrence from unhealthy cells remaining in the body. Researchers have also found that the MasSpec Pen does not damage the surrounding healthy tissue.
“Any time you can perform a more precise, safer surgery, it’s a win for the patients and results in better outcomes,” said Dr. James Suliburk, endocrine surgeon at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, associate professor and chief of endocrine surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, and a member of the team that developed the MasSpec Pen.