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Open AccessArticle

Efficient Spatial Sampling for AFM-Based Cancer Diagnostics: A Comparison between Neural Networks and Conventional Data Analysis

Physics Institute, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Largo F. Vito, 1 00168 Rome, Italy
Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS, 1 00168 Rome, Italy
Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Division of Neurosurgery, Policlinico Umberto I, Sapienza University of Rome, Viale del Policlinico, 155 00161 Rome, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Condens. Matter 2019, 4(2), 58;
Received: 22 April 2019 / Revised: 13 June 2019 / Accepted: 19 June 2019 / Published: 21 June 2019
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) in spectroscopy mode receives a lot of attention because of its potential in distinguishing between healthy and cancer tissues. However, the AFM translational process in clinical practice is hindered by the fact that it is a time-consuming technique in terms of measurement and analysis time. In this paper, we attempt to address both issues. We propose the use of neural networks for pattern recognition to automatically classify AFM force–distance (FD) curves, with the aim of avoiding curve-fitting with the Sneddon model or more complicated ones. We investigated the applicability of this method to the classification of brain cancer tissues. The performance of the classifier was evaluated with receiving operating characteristic (ROC) curves for the approach and retract curves separately and in combination with each other. Although more complex and comprehensive models are required to demonstrate the general applicability of the proposed approach, preliminary evidence is given for the accuracy of the results, and arguments are presented to support the possible applicability of neural networks to the classification of brain cancer tissues. Moreover, we propose a possible strategy to shorten measurement times based on the estimation of the minimum number of FD curves needed to classify a tissue with a confidence level of 0.005. Taken together, these results have the potential to stimulate the design of more effective protocols to reduce AFM measurement times and to get rid of curve-fitting, which is a complex and time-consuming issue that requires experienced staff with a strong data-analysis background. View Full-Text
Keywords: atomic force microscopy; biomechanics; brain cancer atomic force microscopy; biomechanics; brain cancer
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Ciasca, G.; Mazzini, A.; Sassun, T.E.; Nardini, M.; Minelli, E.; Papi, M.; Palmieri, V.; de Spirito, M. Efficient Spatial Sampling for AFM-Based Cancer Diagnostics: A Comparison between Neural Networks and Conventional Data Analysis. Condens. Matter 2019, 4, 58.

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