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University of Basel

Tissue Analysis Using Nanotechnology

Cancer cells can metastasize and spread quickly, forming secondary tumors in various organs of the body. This is why people suffering from cancer depend on quick diagnostic results. A fast and reliable diagnosis of the tumor’s aggressiveness would thus be a decisive advantage in the fight against cancer.

Roderick Lim
Roderick Lim appreciates the professional challenges in connection with the possibility to help people. © Universität Basel

The team of Argovia Professor Roderick Lim from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the Biozentrum at the University of Basel has developed a device known as Artidis (Automated and Reliable Tissue Diagnostics) that is based on atomic force microscopy. It measures local nanomechanical properties of tissue samples and generates a universal fingerprint that allows differentiating between malignant and benign tumors as well as healthy tissue.

“Our work covers a range of interdisciplinary research areas: We are essentially interested in basic questions related to molecular and cellular transport phenomena, which have important implications in cell biology and disease such as cancer. Oftentimes our studies require that we conceptualize and innovate new methodologies, which in one particular case led to the development of Artidis, which promises to enhance medical research in terms of cancer diagnosis. These challenges, in connection with the possibility to help people, make our projects not only scientifically interesting, but also highly satisfying on a personal level,” explains Lim.

Together with the company Nanosurf, originally a spin-off from the University of Basel, Lim’s team will further optimize Artidis with the aim to develop a device that can be easily operated in clinics. This method of cancer diagnosis could drastically reduce patient waiting times. Parallel to the development of the device, the research team will further study the role of nanomechanics in the aggression and spread of cancer cells in living tissue.

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