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Home > News > Single fluorescent nanodiamonds as cellular biomarkers

March 1st, 2007

Single fluorescent nanodiamonds as cellular biomarkers

Abstract:
One of the key avenues to understanding how biological systems function at the molecular level is to probe biomolecules individually and observe how they interact with each other directly in vivo. Laser-induced fluorescence is a technique widely adopted for this purpose owing to its ultrahigh sensitivity and capabilities of performing multiple-probe detection. However, in applying this technique to imaging and tracking a single molecule or particle in a biological cell, progress is often hampered by the presence of ubiquitous endogenous components such as flavins and collagens that produce high fluorescence background signals. These biomolecules typically absorb light at wavelengths in the range of 300-500 nm and fluoresce at 400-550 nm. To avoid such interference, a good biological fluorescent probe should absorb light at a wavelength longer than 500 nm and emit light at a wavelength longer than 600 nm, at which the emission has a long penetration depth through cells and tissues. Organic dyes and fluorescent proteins are two types of molecules often used to meet such a requirement; however, the detrimental photophysical properties of these molecules, such as photobleaching and blinking, inevitably restrict their applications for long-term in vitro or in vivo observations. Fluorescent semiconductor nanocrystals (or quantum dots), on the other hand, hold a number of advantageous features including high photobleaching thresholds and broad excitation but narrow emission spectra well suited for multicolor labeling and detection. Unfortunately, most quantum dots are toxic, and hence reduction of cytotoxicity and human toxicity through surface modification plays a pivotal role in their successful application to in vivo labeling, imaging, and diagnosis. Researchers in Taiwan have demonstrated that nanodiamond particles possess several unique features, including facile surface modification, long-term photostability, and no fluorescence blinking, that makes their detection and long-term tracking in living cells not only possible but practical.

Source:
nanowerk.com

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