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Newly designed nanoparticle quantum dots simultaneously target and image prostate tumors in mice

tumor. Tumors grow extra blood vessels in a process called angiogenesis. These angiogenic vessels are very porous, which allowed the quantum dots to leak out and accumulate at the tumor sites, where they could be detected by fluorescence imaging.

The scientists then conjugated the quantum dots to a highly specific monoclonal antibody targeted to a prostate-specific membrane antigen (PMSA) on the cell surface of the prostate tumor cells. When they injected the conjugated quantum dots into the circulatory system of the mice, the dots selectively accumulated at the site of the tumor through binding to the antigen target. The new triblock polymer coating protected the quantum dots from attack by enzymes and other biomolecules. The active method of tumor targeting using the monoclonal antibody was much faster and more efficient than was the passive method without the antibody.

"Although other research groups have used quantum dots to either target or image cells, we believe this is the first time in vivo targeting and imaging has been achieved simultaneously," said Xiaohu Gao, PhD a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Nie's group.

In previous studies without using the ABC triblock polymer, Emory scientists and other researchers experienced a significant loss of fluorescence in quantum dots that were administered to live animals. "This polymer appears to lend a great deal of protection and stability to the quantum dot probes inside the animals," Dr. Gao said. "Also, cadmium and selenium ions are highly toxic, and this polymer acts like a plastic bag to protect the quantum dots from degradation and leakage."

"This is a new class of quantum dot conjugates designed specifically for complex in vivo applications," said Dr. Nie. "They are stable over a broad range of pH and salt conditions and maintain their stability even after treatment with hydrochloric acid."

Quantum dots are more brightly fluorescent than traditional dyes and fluores
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Contact: Holly Korschun
404-727-3990
Emory University Health Sciences Center
27-Jul-2004


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