Bioassay of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) using microcantilevers

Guanghua Wu, Ram H. Datar, Karolyn M. Hansen, Thomas Thundat, Richard J. Cote, Arun Majumdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

945 Scopus citations


Diagnosis and monitoring of complex diseases such as cancer require quantitative detection of multiple proteins. Recent work has shown that when specific biomolecular binding occurs on one surface of a microcantilever beam, intermolecular nanomechanics bend the cantilever, which can be optically detected. Although this label-free technique readily lends itself to formation of microcantilever arrays, what has remained unclear is the technologically critical issue of whether it is sufficiently specific and sensitive to detect disease-related proteins at clinically relevant conditions and concentrations. As an example, we report here that microcantilevers of different geometries have been used to detect two forms of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) over a wide range of concentrations from 0.2 ng/ml to 60 μg/ml in a background of human serum albumin (HSA) and human plasminogen (HP) at 1 mg/ml, making this a clinically relevant diagnostic technique for prostate cancer. Because cantilever motion originates from the free-energy change induced by specific biomolecular binding, this technique may offer a common platform for high-throughput label-free analysis of protein-protein binding, DNA hybridization, and DNA-protein interactions, as well as drug discovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)856-860
Number of pages5
JournalNature Biotechnology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2001


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