MasSpec Pen

MasSpec Pen is a handheld device that provides surgeons with a high-speed way of identifying cancer.

The current method for spotting cancerous tissue during surgery requires that a sample be removed from the patient and examined under a microscope. That process takes more than 30 minutes, during which the patient faces an increased risk of infection. By contrast, MasSpec Pen requires only ten seconds. When touching a suspected cancer, the Pen releases a tiny droplet of water. Chemicals inside the living cells move into the droplet, which is then sucked back up the pen for analysis. The pen is then plugged into a mass spectrometer, which produces a chemical fingerprint that tells doctors whether they are looking at healthy tissue or cancer.

The University of Texas at Austin

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