IIT Roorkee researchers develop carbon nanomaterials for simultaneous detection & destruction of cancer cells

IIT Roorkee researchers develop carbon nanomaterials for simultaneous detection & destruction of cancer cells
Abhay Anand | Nov 8, 2018 - 2:55 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 8: Dr. P. Gopinath and his team from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee have developed fluorescent carbon nanodots that can serve as “theranostic” (therapeutic + diagnostic) agents for cancer. These nanosized (10-9 metre) carbon materials have been extracted from the leaves of the rosy periwinkle plant.

The identification of cancer cells and their inhibition/destruction have been continuing challenges in the field of oncology and cancer drug research for many decades. In the past few years, nanotechnology has emerged as one of the most promising areas in cancer diagnostics and treatment and nanomaterials – materials having dimensions in the nanometre (10-9 m) range – are being increasingly studied as agents in molecular tumour imaging, molecular diagnosis and targeted therapy.

Of the many types of nanomaterials studied, carbon nanodots show considerable potential. “carbon nanodot” refers to fluorescent carbon-based nanomaterials. Carbon dots, also called carbon quantum dots, are fluorescent materials that are well-suited as both therapeutic and diagnostic agents for cancer because of two unique characteristics – they are biocompatible and can be rapidly excreted from the body and exhibit low toxicity while producing reliable optical signal. In addition, they can be chemically modified for use as multimodal probes and therapeutic conjugates.

Dr. Gopinath’s team has synthesised carbon nanodots by heating the leaves of Catharanthus roseus, commonly called rosy periwinkle and Vinca rosea, in a process called “hydrothermal reaction.”

“Such events of real-time image guided anticancer therapy by a single system open a new paradigm in the field of anticancer therapy”, says Dr. Gopinath on the benefits of these theranostic tools. “With these nanomaterials, we can identify the cancer cells and track them by an imaging system simultaneously as the cells themselves are being eradicated in a precise ‘surgical strike”, he adds.

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