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New Tool To Better Distinguish Cancerous Tissues From Normal Tissues

Update Date: Sep 23, 2014 10:47 AM EDT
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Around 40 percent of patients undergoing a breast cancer surgery require additional operations because surgeons fail to remove all the cancerous tissue for the first time. Now, researchers have come up with a new tool that will help researchers identify and distinguish cancerous breast tissue from normal tissue. 

The tool, dubbed DESI mass spectrometry imaging (or Desorption ElectroSpray Ionization mass spectrometry imaging), works by turning molecules into electrically charged versions of themselves, called ions, so that the can be identified by their mass.

The tool then analyzes the mass of the ions and the contents of a tissue sample is analyzed. 

"Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of classifying cancerous and normal breast tissues using DESI mass spectrometry imaging," said Nathalie Agar, PhD, director of the Surgical Molecular Imaging Laboratory, BWH Departments of Neurosurgery and Radiology, senior study author. "The results may help us to move forward in improving this method so that surgeons can use it to rapidly detect residual cancer tissue during breast cancer surgery, hopefully decreasing the need for multiple operations."

The study also noted that several fatty acids, such as oleic acid, were more abundant in breast cancer tissue compared to normal tissue. 

The tool has been described in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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