Cancer and Cantilevers

In Chapter 3, you read about the cantilevers attached to the scanning probe microscopes. The cantilever is one tool with potential to aid in cancer diagnosis. Nanoscale cantilevers, tiny bars anchored at one end, can be engineered to bind to molecules associated with cancer. They may bind to altered DNA sequences or proteins that are present in certain types of cancer. When the cancer-associated molecules bind to the cantilevers, there are changes in surface tension that cause the cantilevers to bend. By monitoring whether or not the cantilevers are bent, scientists can tell whether the cancer molecules are present. Scientists hope this bending will be evident even when the altered molecules are present in very low concentrations. This will be useful in detecting early molecular events in the development of cancer.

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