Today’s Most Creative People: The Team Behind A Cancer-Sniffing Surgeon’s Knife

Scientists at Imperial College London have created a prototype “iKnife” with a built in spectrometer that knows whenever it cuts into cancerous tissue.

Today’s Most Creative People: The Team Behind A Cancer-Sniffing Surgeon’s Knife

A new electrosurgical knife being tested in London can detect whenever it’s cutting into cancerous tissue–and has an impressive 100% accuracy rate in tests. The iKnife, created by a team at Imperial College London, uses spectrometer technology to detect whenever it’s cutting into cancerous tissue. By autodetecting the tissue, the prototype knife allows surgeons to avoid additional laboratory tests and potentially cut surgery time.

Creator Zoltan Takats said in a release that “these results provide compelling evidence that the iKnife can be applied in a wide range of cancer surgery procedures. It provides a result almost instantly, allowing surgeons to carry out procedures with a level of accuracy that hasn’t been possible before. We believe it has the potential to reduce tumor recurrence rates and enable more patients to survive.“

The iKnife (also, inventors–can we please stop using the iPrefix everywhere we go?) is an electrosurgical knife with a mass spectrometer to detect metabolites given off by cancerous cells. When the electrosurgical knife creates smoke, the spectrometer detects whether the smoke comes from cancerous tissue. Because of the spectrometer technology, future uses aren’t limited to cancer–they also include bacterial testing and even supply chain testing for meats. For Takats and the Imperial College team, their current challenge is how to display data from the iKnife in real time. The current version is unable to give surgeons data from the knife in real time. Future versions are expected to show real-time data.

Every year, Fast Company names its 100 Most Creative People, highlighting the global leaders in tech, design, media, music, movies, marketing, television, sports, and more. Takats and other thought leaders will be considered for 2014’s list.

[Image: Imperial College London]