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Cancer Mass Spectrometry

January 12, 2017

Molecular analysis of tissue samples could lead to fast, accurate cancer diagnosis.


Identifying cancer cells with chemistry. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Telling whether or not a tissue sample includes cancer cells is a slow and difficult procedure, involving preparing slides and visually inspecting the cells. Now researchers are turning to a technique called mass spectrometry to make diagnosis faster and more accurate. Livia Eberlin is an analytical chemist at the University of Texas at Austin. She and her colleagues are developing portable mass spectrometry probes that could analyze tissues during surgery, right in the operating room.

LIVIA EBERLIN (University of Texas at Austin):

So we want to make this accessible to every hospital, every doctor, every medical professional that needs a much more accurate diagnosis during surgery and other clinical procedures where you need to have an answer in real time.


She says the technique will help reduce uncertainty in cancer diagnosis, as well as the number of unnecessary surgeries. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Livia Eberlin is a winner of the AAAS Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences.

Story by Bob Hirshon