The process of extracting nanoscale data for diagnostic purpose is termed nAnostic®. The method has been developed by the company Serend-ip GmbH. Analytical services are provided as contract research. Applications are focused on epithelial and endothelial cells, which are involved in the majority of diseases. Biologically relevant readouts comprise polarisation, barrier function or differentiation of a cell layer and (mechanical) stress or apoptosis of single cells. In early 2011, a first phenotype-based cell assay will be validated.
Surface topography of biological cells is available at nanometer accuracy using modern instrumentation like AFM. This is achieved by "touching" the sample with a fine tip instead of "looking at" using light microscopy. Systematic quantitation of topographical data provides new insights into physiological processes. Due to its ultrahigh resolution, the information obtained through the tactile method AFM cannot be rivalled by optical microscopy.
nAnostic® has no need for optical transparency and thus can characterise cells grown on metals, minerals or polymers. Since no sample processing or labelling is necessary, the obtained data offer high physiological relevance.