Atomic force microscopes can generate a highly detailed topological map of a specimen by moving a stylus coupled to a cantilever over the sample surface, using a laser to measure deflection of the cantilever.1 Now, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have adopted this principle to create a system capable of quantifying intermolecular interactions, with potential applications for both clinicians and high-throughput proteomics researchers.2

In a research article published in the September issue of Nature Biotechnology, Arun Majumdar, professor of mechanical engineering at Berkeley, and coauthors at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at UC-Berkeley, describe a system to quantify prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a prostate cancer protein marker.

The PSA test uses a cantilever 200 mm long and 0.5 mm wide, one side of which is...

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