Quantum dots also show promises of a new means of diagnosing and combating cancer. Quantum dots, also known as nanocrystals, are miniscule particles, or "dots" made of semiconducting materials. When the dots are stimulated by ultraviolet light, they glow in very intense, bright neon colors.
Emory University scientists have used luminescent quantum dot nano-particles in living animals to target and image cancerous tumors. The quantum dots were first coated with a protective shell covering. Then special antibodies were attached to the surface of the quantum dots. After the quantum dots were injected into the body, they were guided to a prostate tumor of living mice. Using a mercury lamp, the scientists were able to see the surface of the tumor. It was illuminated by the accumulation of quantum dots on the cell. The scientists believe the ability to both target and image cells in vivo (in the body) represents an important step in the goal to eventually use nanotechnology to target, image, and treat cancer, cardiovascular plaques, and other diseases in humans.
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