BOSTON (CBS) — Researchers in Finland have developed a so-called “artificial nose” that they believe can help sniff out brain cancer during surgery.

Surgeons often use an electric knife, particularly when operating on the brain. As the knife cuts, it burns through tissue, releases molecules into the air in the form of surgical smoke.

Researchers developed a way to feed this smoke into a measuring system that has been taught to recognize smoke molecules from malignant tissue versus that from healthy tissue.

In a study of almost 700 tissue samples, the device was at least 83 percent accurate at finding the cancerous samples.

This could help neurosurgeons identify cancerous tissue in real time, without necessarily having to send a sample to a pathologist, and allow them to be more precise when removing tumors.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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