The Upcoming Technologies in Diagnostics

The range and ability of diagnostics tests is constantly evolving, helping to detect diseases earlier, in more detail, across the globe. Researchers from University of Texas recently developed an automated and biocompatible handheld sampling probe known as MasSpec Pen, that assists physicians detailed diagnostic information about the tissue that has to preserve or cut, helping advance treatment and decrease the probabilities of disease recurrence. The results provided an evidence that the MasSpec Pen is suited for rapid ex vivo and in vivo cancer diagnosis of tissue samples. The mass spectra obtained from the analysis of 20 thin tissue sections and 253 human tissue samples presented rich molecular information of the disease state.

The chemical extraction used in this process is very gentle so that the tissue is undamaged after molecular analysis. The masSpec Pen was used in ex vivo molecular analysis of 20 human cancer thin tissue sections and 253 human patient tissue samples including normal and cancerous tissues from breast, lung, thyroid and ovary. The mass spectra obtained presented rich molecular profile characterized by a variety of potential cancer biomarkers identified as metabolites, proteins and lipids. Statistical data obtained from the histologically validated molecular database allowed cancer prediction with high sensitivity (96.4%), specificity (96.2%), and overall accuracy (96.3%), as well as prediction of malignant and benign thyroid tumors and different histologic subtypes of lung cancer.

Conventional method for pathological diagnosis such as hematoxylin and eosin (H&E)-stained tissues on glass slides by conventional light microscopy has some limitations in x-y axes due to its relatively narrow range of observation area and in z-axis due to its two-dimensionality. Imaging in 3D can help in overcoming some of the limitations associated with this technique, and help pathologists detect abnormalities which may otherwise have been missed. Researchers in Japan recently has demonstrated that CUBIC (Clear, Unobstructed Brain/Body Imaging Cocktail and Computational Analysis), the most powerful tissue-clearing and three-dimensional (3D)-imaging technique, effective at delineating normal and abnormal regions in lungs and lymph node tissues. The promising results of the research highlight the potential for 3D histopathology to improve diagnosis procedures.

Population screening can play an important role in diagnosis and managing disease such as zika by detecting the presence of the disease before symptoms appear. Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis are in the process of developing such a test on a paper strip. The test costing approximately 10 to 15 cents and produces a color change when immunoglobins in the blood of an infected patient react with tiny gold nanorods embedded on the paper. This test is cost effective and user-friendly.

– Arpitha Shetty,
Research Analyst,
Infoholic Research