When doctors touch the tip of the MasSpec pen to a suspect tissue sample, and press a pedal, the pen releases a small droplet of water.
The pen then sucks up the water along with some residual tissue into an onsite mass spectrometer and analyzes everything right there on the spot.
Using mice and human tissue samples, researchers correctly identified lung, ovary, thyroid, and breast cancers and do so with ~93% accuracy.
The team of scientists out of the University of Texas-Austin who came up with this pen is currently working to add more cancer types into the mix.
The pen also has the potential to be used in cancer treatment.
Its tip is 3D-printed using surgical-ready plastic and because it uses water instead of the high-voltage, pressurized gasses, and toxic solvents and chemicals employed in standard mass spectrometry, the pen doesn’t pose a threat to the healthy tissue nearby the tumor site.
Combine that with how small the pen is, and the device can be used in live patients, during surgery.
Read more from the official website of the “MasSpec pen”.