Researchers say new device can detect cancer within seconds

(WSVN) - Researchers in Texas touted a “groundbreaking” new technology they say can detect cancer in just seconds.

Scientists from the University of Texas at Austin presented the pen-shaped device at South by Southwest over the weekend, which uses touch for diagnosis.

The MasSpec Pen, a handheld device paired with a mass spectrometer, releases water droplets to extract molecules from tissue. The device then analyzes the sample.

“There’s definitely a lot of hope,” research assistant Marta Sans told Fox News. “[It] can diagnose cancer during surgery in 20 seconds.”

Researchers said they analyzed 300 patient samples, and were able to diagnose four kinds of cancer – breast, lung, ovarian and thyroid cancers – with over 96 percent accuracy.

Doctors say that determining normal tissue from cancerous tissue can be difficult, and waiting for results is a time-consuming process.

“The doctor may take it out, may have to send it to the pathologist for a frozen section. Meanwhile, everyone’s waiting for a report from the pathologist to see if the margin’s clear,” said Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society.

The next step is for the pen to be tested in surgery rooms. The device has not yet been approved by the FDA, but the regulatory process could take several years.

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