7 July 2014
A successful trial has been carried out on a new tool that could revolutionise treatment for brain cancer patients.
Researchers at Purdue University and Brigham and Women's Hospital in the US have created a mass spectrometry device that sprays a microscopic stream of charged solvent on to the surface of tissue in the brain while it is exposed by surgeons.
This produces a colour-coded image that not only reveals the location, nature and concentration of tumour cells, but can also detect tumour residues that have been left behind in the patient following surgery.
At present, treatment relies on the surgeon looking at the tumour, but it can be difficult to differentiate its boundaries from healthy brain tissue.
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, study co-author Graham Cooks said: "The instrumentation is relatively small and inexpensive and could easily be installed in operating rooms to aid neurosurgeons. This study shows the tremendous potential it has to enhance patient care."
Malignant brain tumours can easily spread into the normal brain tissue that surrounds them and cause pressure and damage, so this new technique could prove vital in removing them.
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