FDAnews Device Daily Bulletin


March 29, 2006

A shoe-box-sized prototype used to detect minute traces of a chemical used in bombs is now being used to detect cancer tumors. In line with the FDA's Critical Path Opportunities List, researchers at Purdue University have introduced a new handheld chemical-analysis tool for detecting biomarkers in urine that provide an early warning of disease. The device can spot everything from liver cancer to explosive residue on luggage.

The technology, desorption electrospray ionization (DESI), identifies the boundaries of cancer tumors, to help ensure removal of the entire tumor.

To develop the device, researchers modified the conventional tool known as the "mass spectrometer" -- a time and labor-intensive analytical tool -- "into faster, versatile and more portable technology."

What's different about DESI is that it can be used anywhere, Emil Venere, spokesman for the science department at Purdue, told FDAnews. "It can be used ambiently, instead of just in a secure chamber. The spectrometer makes ions and then sucks them up," he explained.

Mass spectrometry works by first turning molecules into ions -- electronically charged versions of themselves -- which can then be more easily manipulated, detected and analyzed based on their mass. ()a href="http://www.fdanews.com/ddl" target=_blank>