Real-Time Tumor Analysis

Look out! Here comes the SpiderMass

July 2018

How can we make cancer surgery more efficient? At the moment, there’s approximately a half-hour waiting time built into the procedure so that pathologists can inspect the excised tissue to make sure all the cancerous matter has been removed. Now, a research group from France is adding to a growing list of mass spectrometry-driven tools that aim to speed up the process.

“We started by developing a technology to enable in vivo mass spectrometry analysis to target applications for medicine,” says Isabelle Fournier, Professor of PRISM Laboratory at Université de Lille. “In our first prototype, we demonstrated that we could perform in vivo analysis with mass spectrometry without being invasive – using the system, SpiderMass, to analyze our skin (1). The technology we developed is based on using the endogenous water of biological tissues as a MALDI matrix.” They dubbed the process Water Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization – or WALDI. Initially, the system was used to detect lipids and metabolites – but, in a recent study (2), the researchers expanded their remit, using SpiderMass to detect and analyze peptides and proteins from cancer biopsies in real time.