Characterisation of Endometrial Cancer Cells by Atomic Force Microscopy


BNN Members involved:

Volker Nock
Maan Alkaisi
John Evans
Lynn Murray
Siti Ibrahim

Fahmi Samsuri
James Muys


Each year, about 40,000 women learn they have endometrial (uterine) cancer in the U.S alone, making it the fourth most common cancer for women. Despite recent headway in understanding of the molecular changes in cancer cells, verification still requires biopsy inspection by optical microscopy. Changes in cell and tissue morphology have remained the benchmark for cancer diagnosis for over a century. A given tumor type in a particular progressive cancerous stage can have distinct structural changes. Changes in nucleus size, shape and cell morphology texture, to name a few, are possibly related to the functional alterations in cancer cells and may offer crucial evidence to a particular tumor type and successful treatment. However, it has been difficult to correlate the relationship between morphology and malignant phenotype, in part due to the poor understanding of the functional significance of the many structured features. To-date, there are no recommendations for accurate screening cancers of the uterus and the only screening procedure being an endometrial biopsy. Resolution limits associated with light-based imaging prevents inaccurate evaluation and misdiagnosis of samples.

The atomic force microscope (AFM) is a probing-based instrument offering superior resolution and the ability to detect topography changes to the single nanometer, as well as measuring in amplitude, height or phase mode. Using the nanoscale capabilities of the AFM, an understanding of cancer cell architecture can be resolved and can be used in the development and study of anticancer drugs. Furthermore, using a Biochip platform designed to position cells at known locations for single-cell studies using microelectrodes would facilitate a rapid, organized process for identification and characterisation of cancerous cells.

In this project, the AFM is used to investigate endometrial cancer cells and a report characterizing their surface topography is being compiled. Furthermore, integration with a Biochip platform is being investigated.


Relevant Publications:


M. M. Alkaisi, J. J. Muys, and J. J. EvansSingle cell imaging with AFM using Biochip/Bioimprint TechnologyInternational Journal of Nanotechnology6 (3-4)355-3682009paper
J. J. Muys, M. M. Alkaisi, J. J. Evans, and J. NagaseBiochip: Cellular Analysis by Atomic Force Microscopy Using Dielectrophoretic ManipulationJapanese Journal of Applied Physics44 (7B)5717-57232005paper