Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 2nd 2014 Contents A32
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, August 2, 2014
Hungarian scientists are aiming for
the first prototype of a new device in
two years that will help surgeons dis-
tinguish between healthy tissue and
tumours in a split-second as they
operate and remove cancerous tissue
Hungarian chemist Zoltan Takats
started to work on the technology in
2002 in the United States and from
2004 onwards at the Budapest Sem-
melweis Medical University in coop-
eration with the Imperial College Lon-
don, where he works now.
Last week, US-based Waters Cor-
poration acquired the technology---
called Rapid Evaporative Ionization
Mass Spectrometry (REIMS)---from
Hungarian start-up firm MediMass
Waters said in a July 22 statement
on its Web site that the technology
could be used to create the "Intelligent
Knife" or "iKnife," a device "in the con-
ceptual stages of development that
could potentially be used for real-time
diagnostics in surgery."
Takats told Reuters he hoped the
acquisition would give the project a
new momentum, leading to a device
prototype within two years and licensing
a couple of years after that.
"What we have developed is a device
that can tell a surgeon the kind of tissue
on which he is operating," Takats said.
The invention combines two existing
technologies: mass spectrometry, which
is a chemical analytical method, and
"These two are very, very far from
each other, and no one has ever thought
that these two could be combined,"
The technology relies on a modifi-
cation of the electrosurgical knife, which
sends up molecules in the form of
smoke as surgeons operate and which
Takats and his colleagues direct to the
mass spectrometer for testing.
This allows analysis of the sample
tissue on the spot in less than a second.
Under normal circumstances, surgeons
need to send off samples to a laboratory
for analysis, and it takes about an hour
in Hungary to get the result, Takats
"At the moment we are able to pro-
duce not only the mass spectrometry
information within about half a second,
but also analyse it and identify the kind
of tumour on which the surgeon is
operating," Takats said. (Reuters)
Scientists aim for cancer
surgery device prototype
E-cigarettes are likely to be much
less harmful than conventional ciga-
rettes, an analysis of current scientific
Scientists argue replacing conven-
tional cigarettes with electronic ones
could reduce smoking-related deaths
even though long-term effects are
In the journal Addiction, researchers
suggest e-cigarettes should face less
stringent regulations than tobacco. But
experts warn encouraging their use
without robust evidence is "reckless."
Instead of inhaling tobacco smoke,
e-cigarette users breathe in vaporised
liquid nicotine. About two million peo-
ple use electronic cigarettes in the UK,
and their popularity is growing world-
wide. The World Health Organization
and national authorities are considering
policies to restrict their sales, advertising
An international team examined 81
studies, looking at: safety concerns,
chemicals in the liquids and vapours,
use among smokers and non-smokers.
And they say electronic cigarettes con-
tain a few of the toxins seen in tobacco
smoke, but at much lower levels.
They report there is no current evi-
dence that children move from exper-
imenting with e-cigarettes to regular
use, and conclude the products do not
encourage young people to go on to
conventional smoking habits.
And their analysis suggests switching
to e-cigarettes can help tobacco smokers
quit or reduce cigarette consumption.
Prof Peter Hajek, of Queen Mary
University in London, an author on the
paper, told the BBC: "This is not the
final list of risks, others may emerge.
"But regulators need to be mindful
of crippling the e-cigarette market and
by doing so failing to give smokers
access to these safer products that could
save their lives.
"If harsh regulations are put in place
now, we will damage public health on
a big scale."
Researchers conclude there should
be more long-term studies comparing
the health of smokers with e-cigarette
users. Prof Martin McKee, of the Lon-
don School of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine, who was not involved in this
analysis, told the BBC: "Health pro-
fessionals are deeply divided on e-cig-
"Those who treat smokers with
severe nicotine addiction see them as
offering a safer alternative to cigarettes.
"In marked contrast, many others,
such as the 129 health experts who
recently wrote to the World Health
Organization, are extremely worried
given the serious concerns that remain
about their safety, the absence of evi-
dence that they help smokers quit, and
the way they are being exploited by the
tobacco industry to target children.
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
Analysis suggests switching to e-cigarettes can help tobacco smokers quit or reduce cigarette consumption.
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