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This smart tool “smells” cancers in seconds

Facilitating the diagnosis of cancers thanks to an intelligent scalpel, this is the promise of iKnife! This device developed by theImperial College of London can “smell” cancers in seconds. The approach is revolutionary and could reduce diagnosis time and facilitate patient care.

The iKnife is able to detect tumorstumors into tissue samples in seconds! This smart device has already proven itself on breast, colon and cervical cancers, but doctors from several English hospitals tested it for the first time on endometrial cancerthe most common in the female reproductive system.

Detecting tumors in a biopsy by their smell

The iKnife looks like an electrocautery but enhanced by theArtificial intelligenceArtificial intelligence. Placed on a tissue sample taken by biopsybiopsy, the iKnife heats it and “smells” the vapors that are released. The latter are analyzed practically in real time by a spectrometerspectrometer of massemasse. The device searches for traces of a metabolismmetabolism out of whack lipid, a common feature of cancer cells. They need more lipidslipids to ensure their metabolism and to synthesize certain constituents of the plasma membrane with a view to their proliferation.

More than 150 endometrial biopsies, taken with the consent of patients who came to consult for suspected endometrial cancer, were analyzed by the iKnife. As a result, the device made it possible to diagnose its presence with a sensitivity of 89% almost instantly. As for the reference method which consists of analyzing a thin slice of tissue microscopemicroscope by a specialist, it takes one to two weeks.

The iKnife is evolving rapidly and we can imagine that it will be even more efficient in the future for diagnosing endometrial cancer – this study being the first to test it in this context. The algorithm that interprets the results is refined with each sample analysis. If it allows a quick diagnosis, it is not without flaw, the most important being that the iKnife is forced to heat the tissue and therefore destroy it to work. This prevents any subsequent analyzes on said sample.

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In the meantime, doctors are considering it as a complementary diagnostic tool to existing methods. This would allow patients to have a quick first opinion on the presence or absence of cancer, before confirming the diagnosis a little later. Women who test positive could then be taken care of without delay and those who test negative will be spared several days of agonizing waiting.

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