MasSpec Pen


This pen detects cancer.

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 into 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.

Livia Eberlin

  • Livia Eberlin
    The University of Texas at Austin

    The MasSpec Pen was accomplished by an interdisciplinary team aiming to enhance surgical margin evaluation and improve patient outcomes. This collaborative effort includes experts from The University of Texas at Austin, UT Austin Dell Medical School, Baylor College of Medicine, and MD Anderson Cancer Center, merging the fields of chemistry, engineering, and medicine.more


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