A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed carbon nanotubes that can be used to sense cancer drugs (chemotherapy drug Cisplatin) and environemntal toxins and free radicals that have the potential to damage DNA.
The sensors are made of carbon nanotubes coated in DNA. This binds the DNA-damaging agents present in the cell. The interaction between the DNA damaging agent and the coated nantubule changes the intensity and/or wavelength of the fluorescent light emitted by the coated nanotube. These signals can even be used to detect which chemicals are binding to the DNA coated nanotube.
This technology means that not only can you tell where the chemotherapy drugs are but also whether they are active or not. Such technology would therefore be able to monitor chemotherapy patients to ensure that the drugs are effectively battling the tumors.
This work was detailed in a paper entitled “Multimodal optical sensing and analyte specificity using single-walled carbon nanotubes”, and was supported by NCI. In an initiative to accelerate the usage of nanotechnology in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. – CT
Abstract at : Nature Nano