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Are quantum dots ready for in vivo imaging in human subjects?

Weibo Cai, Andrew R Hsu, Zi-Bo Li and Xiaoyuan Chen*

Author Affiliations

The Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS), Department of Radiology and Bio-X Program, Stanford University School of Medicine, 1201 Welch Rd, P095, Stanford, CA, 94305-5484, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2007, 2:265-281  doi:10.1007/s11671-007-9061-9

Published: 30 May 2007


Nanotechnology has the potential to profoundly transform the nature of cancer diagnosis and cancer patient management in the future. Over the past decade, quantum dots (QDs) have become one of the fastest growing areas of research in nanotechnology. QDs are fluorescent semiconductor nanoparticles suitable for multiplexed in vitro and in vivo imaging. Numerous studies on QDs have resulted in major advancements in QD surface modification, coating, biocompatibility, sensitivity, multiplexing, targeting specificity, as well as important findings regarding toxicity and applicability. For in vitro applications, QDs can be used in place of traditional organic fluorescent dyes in virtually any system, outperforming organic dyes in the majority of cases. In vivo targeted tumor imaging with biocompatible QDs has recently become possible in mouse models. With new advances in QD technology such as bioluminescence resonance energy transfer, synthesis of smaller size non-Cd based QDs, improved surface coating and conjugation, and multifunctional probes for multimodality imaging, it is likely that human applications of QDs will soon be possible in a clinical setting.

Quantum dot (QD); Nanoparticles; Nanotechnology; Cancer; Molecular imaging; Near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging; Nanomedicine