Advances in medical analysis

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New scientific advances in the field of substance research will allow instantaneous medical analyzes on the skin surface to be carried out in the near future, detecting substances without having to draw blood and send a sample to a laboratory.

According to an article from the MIT Technology Review, a new technique developed by a team at Purdue University and based on the adaptation of the well-known mass spectrometry method. By using this new method, doctors and forensics will be able to detect and identify substances present on the surface of materials such as cloth, paper, wood and leather.

Mass spectrometry is applied to identify unknown samples through the calculation of their molecular weight. But to analyze substances in this way requires that the molecules receive an electrical charge. This ionization process requires the use of large vacuum chambers, or a very exhaustive preparation of the samples, which means that the application of mass spectrometry until now has been restricted to the scope of a laboratory.

However, thanks to the scientific advance developed by the Purdue team, the new method does not need any of the aforementioned requirements (vacuum chamber or long sample preparation) because it is much simpler. Simply apply a jet of electrically charged liquid under pressure to the surface to be analyzed. The droplets act like microscope projectiles, removing invisible chunks from the sample and transferring charge to those molecules as well. The droplets, along with the sample molecules already inside them, are then aspirated by a standard mass spectrometer.

Read the original article here.

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