New iKnife can sniff out cancerous tissue

18 Jul 2013

A new surgical knife can detect in seconds whether tissue being cut is cancerous by analysing biological information and comparing the findings to a database of biological data from tumours and healthy tissue.

Researchers at London’s Imperial College have built the iKnife, which can potentially help surgeons perform more accurate and effective surgeries.

Surgeons can find it difficult to distinguish where a tumour ends and healthy tissue begins, Reuters reports, and the iKnife circumvents the problem by instantly sampling the smoke emanating from tissue cut with an electric current to determine whether or not it is cancerous.

At the moment, tissue removed from a cancerous site can be analysed in a laboratory in about half an hour. The iKnife provides an analysis in less than three seconds.

The researchers conducted a study to test the iKnife on patients, and the result revealed the device diagnosed tissue samples from 91 patients with 100pc accuracy.

The findings have been published in Science Translational Medicine.

The next step for the iKnife may be a clinical trial.

Zoltan Takats, the inventor of the device, said he aims to test the device in a study involving 1,000-1,500 patients with different types of cancer, Reuters reported.

Surgical image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic