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Biomedical scientist testing nanoparticles as early cancer detection agent

four more colors in the infrared spectrum, scientists are able to finely tune nanoparticles to carry out tracking tasks traditionally accomplished using organic dyes. Nanoparticles have characteristics that are more desirable than dyes, however. Dyes fade more quickly, they can be toxic to cells, and they cannot be used together because each dye requires a different light wavelength to be visible. Nanoparticles can be illuminated using just one laser beam.

Scientists only have to vary the size of quantum dots slightly and they glow brightly in one of 10 available colors. When different sized dots are embedded in tiny beads made of a polymer material, the color of the bead can be finely tuned. Theoretically, beads with tiny permutations of color could tag a million different proteins or genetic sequences in a process called "multiplexing."

Nie acts as a senior consultant to Bioplex Corp., a company spun out of his lab's research in Indiana and headed by Tom Petzinger, CEO. The company, which holds the exclusive license from Indiana University for the synthesis of multiplexing dyes for imaging and detection, was recently added to the roster of start-ups at EmTech Bio, a business incubator jointly run by Georgia Tech and Emory University. Bioplex Corporation is partially owned by Pittsburgh-based LaunchCyte.

Scientists, including Nie, are currently studying methods of linking quantum dots to medical drugs or other therapeutic agents to target cancer cells. These dots could serve as "smart bombs" to deliver a controlled amount of drug to a particular type of cell.

Nie is working with Emory University cancer urologist Lelund Chung to use bioconjugated quantum dots as molecular probes to rapidly analyze biopsy tissue from cancer patients. The nanoparticles would be able to profile a large number of genes and proteins simultaneously, allowing physicians to individualize cancer treatments based on the molecular differences in the cancers of
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Contact: Larry Bowie
larry.bowie@icpa.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
23-Oct-2002


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