April 1, 2009
Amrita Center for Nanosciences, Kochi

A research paper published by the nanosciences team in Amrita has been downloaded 250 times in three weeks. “To put this into context, across all 70 IoP journals, only 10% of articles were accessed over 250 times this quarter,” wrote the publisher, in a congratulatory message to Amrita. IoP, the Institute of Physics, publishes Nanotechnology and several other journals for the dissemination of physics-related knowledge to the scientific community.

Both physics-related and biological findings were at the core of the paper — Bio-conjugated luminescent quantum dots of doped ZnS: A cyto-friendly system for targeted cancer imaging. The paper discussed the use of luminous nano particles that attach only to cancer cells, thereby helping identify them. “For the first time, we have been able to demonstrate the use of a luminescent ZnS salt in quantum dot form that is completely non-toxic,” shared Dr. Shanti Nair, Director of the Amrita Center for Nanosciences.

Cancerous CellsDr. Shanti Nair with his colleagues, Dr. Deepthy Menon and Dr. Manzoor Koyakutty, has been involved in research work related to early detection of cancer ever since the inception of the Amrita Center for Nanosciences, two years ago. The Center is located on the health care campus of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, in close proximity to the School of Medicine and the 1300-bed super specialty hospital AIMS. India has the highest incidence of oral cancer and the team conducted its experiments on cultured oral cancerous cells.

Dr. Shanti Nair“Early detection of cancer is the key to its treatment,” explained Dr. Nair. “There have been studies where cadmium selenide crystals have been used to identify cancerous cells, but these damage healthy cells too. We have been able to demonstrate a method wherein ZnS, with particle sizes under 10 nanometers, doped with a tiny bit of another element, has proved effective. The luminous particles are surface functionalized to help with targeting of cancer cells.”

Further experiments are underway. A solution, daubed on the area suspected to be cancerous, would enable luminous nano-particles to attach only to cancerous cells, thereby marking them for targeted destruction. “Targeted cancer imaging shows great promise in the early detection and treatment of cancer,” said Dr. Nair. “We are encouraged by the results obtained and the interest shown in our work. It is the large team of dedicated researchers at Amrita that has made it happen.” Seby Johny, Deepa Thomas, Sonali Setua, PhD students at the Center, also contributed to the research.

Research Paper Details

Koyakutty Manzoor, Seby Johny, Deepa Thomas, Sonali Setua, Deepthy Menon and Shantikumar Nair, Bio-conjugated luminescent quantum dots of doped ZnS: A cyto-friendly system for targeted cancer imaging, Nanotechnology, Vol 20, pp065102 (2009)

For paper abstract, please click here.

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