Quantum Dots!

July 19th, 2006 | researchmaterial

Nano-sized fluorescent probes that can slip inside living cells and elucidate life’s most fundamental processes, or track the effectiveness of cancer-fighting drugs, are barely noticed by the cells they enter, according to a team of researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Using a high-throughput gene expression test, the team determined that the probes, which are specially coated quantum dots, only affect 0.2 percent of the human genome. This finding should quell concerns that the mere presence of these promising but potentially toxic sentinels disrupts a cell’s function, confounding quantum dots’ ability to accurately track cellular processes or monitor the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals…


3 Responses to “Quantum Dots!”

  1. The tricky part (after you’d made sure the laser you need to use won’t just fry the cells) is getting the dots into the cell without fixing (killing) it. Then we can start to have some real fun.

  2. Byron, neither the laser scan nor the insertion of the quantum dots is a problem. Using a laser to excite the quantum dots is no different than using flow cytometry for cell characterization, which yields viable cells. The insertion of the quantum dot probes is surely a simple transfection procedure, like transfecting siRNA in a knockdown model, that is performed all the time.

  3. I’ll accept the laser power won’t be a problem—I think quantum dots are supposed to be much brighter than, say, GFP anyway. However, my impression is that these guys are mostly a replacement for the standard fluorochromes, except more stable and tunable so you can design multicolor experiments with minimal overlapping spectra. For intracellular labeling of, say, kinases why would you not have the same sorts problems?