Different nanoparticles with affinities to different proteins can be placed into the same cell. Then using different frequency lasers the locations and movements of different proteins can be tracked in the cell. Among the many potential applications for this technology would be more rapid and accurate tissue biopsy and drug delivery:
Because quantum dots are so small, their electrons are compacted, causing them to emit light or to act as a fluorescent tag. Quantum dots can bond chemically to biological molecules, enabling them to trace specific proteins within cells. Nie calls them "bioconjugated nanoparticles" – small particles that are chemically linked to biological materials.
Nanoparticle probes can be used as contrast markers in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in positron emission tomography (PET) for in-vivo molecular imaging, or they can be used as fluorescent tracers in optical microscopy. These tags can trace specific proteins in cells for cancer diagnosis or monitor the effectiveness of drug therapy. Because the dots glow with bright, fluorescent colors, scientists hope they will improve the sensitivity of diagnostic tests for molecules that are difficult to detect, such as those in cancer cells, or even the AIDS virus, Nie said.
Update: See this previous article on quantum dots as well.
"The technology could considerably accelerate and reduce the costs of developing and evaluating drug candidates," he said. "On the clinical side, molecular diagnostics are growing in popularity. It's an industry driven by costs and speed. This technology creates new forms of assaying biomedical indications for a lot less money in a lot less time."
Nie, meanwhile, said the technology ultimately may be so effective that it will be used in individualized medicine, or studying, for example, how drugs work in individuals.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2002 November 05 12:54 PM Nanotech for Biotech|