Fluorescent dots, small particles that can produce light, might have a swarm of promising biomedical employments, from helping clinical practitioners to determine tumor margins to the delivery of drugs deep in the body.

Nonetheless, a Newswise report specified, producing such dots is typically a long and tedious procedure that utilizes harmful chemicals.

Now, NIBIB-funded scientists are currently developing a fluorescent dot utilizing eco-friendly materials.

According to Tatjana Atanasijevic, PhD, the NIBIB program director in Molecular Probes and Imaging Agents. The study outlined in the report provides a fundamental understanding that could result more cheaply and safely to produce such an essential type of nanoparticle.

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Science Times - Fluorescent Nanomaterials Given an Eco-Friendly ‘Glow Up’ in a New Study
(Photo : Yesint on Wikimedia Commons)
Cylindrical squalenoyl-doxorubicin nanoparticle

Synthesizing Fluorescent Dots

Traditional synthesis approaches for fluorescent dots usually require the use of organic solvents, which are effective when it comes to helping in breaking down substances, not to mention facilitating chemical reactions.

Nevertheless, organic solvents can be flammable, carcinogenic, and volatile. They are potentially harmful if mishandled.

What's more is that the fluorescent dots' synthesis is usually time-consuming and multifaceted, demonstrating an assortment of challenges for all-encompassing manufacturing.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers is working though, on a substitute approach. They incorporate a hyaluronic acid, a standard carbohydrate, and particular amino acids, the molecules constituting proteins.

Both components are abundant in the body, and essentially dissolve in water. The latter-mentioned trait contradicts the necessity for poisonous organic solvents.

Combining in Two Naturally Occurring Materials

According to Aaron Mohs, PhD, the study author and an associate professor in the department of pharmaceutical sciences at UNCM, unlike traditional fluorescent dots, the researchers' dots combine two naturally occurring materials.

As specified in Mohs' research, not only does their finding ease the synthesis of nanomaterial, "as we can purify the dots" employing just water, but capitalizes as well, on the biocompatibility of such molecules possibly making them the perfect nanoparticle for a variety of different backgrounds. This recent research of Mohs on fluorescent dots was published in the ACS Omega journal.

Usually, when researchers are making fluorescent particles, they utilize a starting material that comprises fluorescent properties.

Nevertheless, neither amino acids nor hyaluronic acid is particularly fluorescent on its own. For the dots to glow, Mohs and his colleagues have taken advantage of the distinctive chemistry that occurs when the said materials combine.

Hyaluronic Acid

As hyaluronic acid interacts with specific amino acids, the electrons these molecules are sharing can turn confined, affecting the manner the electrons react when exposed to specific light wavelengths.

Such a phenomenon is known as "cross-linked-enhanced" emission. As a result, the dots are glowing blue under specific circumstances, enabling the nanoparticles to be envisioned in cells.

Outside biomedical imaging applications, the study authors wanted to examine if such fluorescent nanoparticles could be utilized to deliver drugs.

Drug Entrapment within the Dot

The researchers had their dots loaded with doxorubicin, a typical cancer chemotherapeutic, and examined its drug-releasing properties and cytotoxic effects.

Compared with the regular doxorubicin, the dots loaded with doxorubicin discharged the drug more slowly in regular drug release assays and exhibited enhanced killing, specifically in breast cancer cells.

According to Deep Bhattacharya, Ph.D., the first study author who is currently a senior scientist at Pfizer, while an appreciable quantity of standard doxorubicin is pumped out of the cells through the so-called drug efflux mechanisms when the drug is entrapped within the dot, "we are likely bypassing" such an effect somewhat.

Such an entrapment in the nanodot allows for an enhanced therapeutic payload and prolonged doxorubicin discharge in cells, Bhattacharya added. 

Related information about doxorubicin is shown on Curie Oncology SG's YouTube video below:


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