K-State physicist’s work with atomic force microscope could lead to technologies for health care like better diagnostics, deeper understanding of cancer

By | July 7, 2009

Ripples in a custom polymerWhere biology, chemistry and physics intersect, a Kansas State University professor expects to find applications to improve human health.The research uses an atomic force microscope, a tool involving a cantilever with a sharp tip that under certain circumstances becomes attached to the protein molecule.  … The researchers stretch the molecules and measure precisely their tiny displacements. … changing the properties of a surface at the very local scale by using an atomic force microscope in which the sharp cantilever tip can be heated up to between 500 degrees and 600 degrees Celsius. …

When this heated tip is scraped across a surface, Szoszkiewicz said, the heat can — under certain circumstances — initiate a chemical reaction on that very surface. He and his colleagues have created patches of chemically changed surface only 10 to 15 nanometers across, but Szoszkiewicz thinks he will be able to change the surface just bunch of molecules at a time. This ability to pattern the surface, he said, could improve personalized medicine by allowing scientists to create tiny chips on which many tests can be run simultaneously.

“You could take a small sample of blood and screen it for any possible drug that could work for you,” he said. “Ordinarily to do such a screening would require a humongous amount of testing material and antibodies. If you could prepare a surface that will selectively bind only one or two molecules of a kind and then see if you have bound or not, then you would need only a few milliliters of blood, and you could test it against millions of molecules. Of course, there are other factors involved and the particular interactions between single blood molecules and their antibodies might not be that simple. But this still remains to be seen.”

Szoszkiewicz said that if scientists can pattern the surface in the way they like, another application might be tiny electric circuits and lenses that guide, respectively, electrons and photons. …

via K-State physicist’s work with atomic force microscope could lead to technologies for health care like better diagnostics, deeper understanding of cancer.

Too bad the word “cure” is forbidden to be used in the same sentence as the word “cancer” … but luckily, our “understanding” of cancer can get as deep as it likes.

Leave a Reply