Tool assists brain cancer surgery

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A new tool, designed to assist surgeons during precise brain cancer operations, has now been successfully used in live surgery.

Current brain surgery is largely reliant on the surgeon's ability to visually identify brain tumor from healthy brain tissue, and minute residual tumor tissue left behind in a patient can have detrimental effects. This new tool shoots a microscopic stream of charged solvent onto a tissue surface, producing a color-coded image that relays information about tumorous tissue location and concentration on the cellular level.

Previous studies of the mass spectrometry-based tool showed success in identification of cancer type, but the research team, based at Purdue University, developed a technique called desorption electrospray ionization, or DESI, in which mass spectrometry molecules are electrically charged and thereby turned into ions so they subsequently be identified by their mass. The DESI technique, coupled with software also designed by the research team, allows a surgeon to easier differentiate tumourous tissue from healthy tissue. The study team believes that additional classification methodologies and metabolite biomarkers could be added, allowing the tool to be used for other cancer types.

Tool assists brain cancer surgery
Tool assists brain cancer surgery
A tool to help brain surgeons test and more precisely remove cancerous tissue was successfully used during surgery, according to a Purdue University and Brigham and Women's Hospital study.

The Purdue-designed tool sprays a microscopic stream of charged solvent onto the tissue surface to gather information about its molecular makeup and produces a color-coded image that reveals the location, nature and concentration of tumor cells.

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