APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
Carolyn Larabell, Paul Alivisatos, and colleagues have discovered
a powerful tool for studying cell motility and migration -
behaviors that are responsible for metastases of primary cancers.
The Berkeley Lab researchers compared the motions of cancerous
and healthy human breast cells, as well as several other cell
types, as they migrated across a layer of colloidal semiconductor
nanocrystals. As they move, they engulf the quantum dots and
leave behind a phagokinetic track which yields information
about the health of the cells. Migration of cells and their
metastatic potential are well known to be correlated.
Colloidal quantum dots are robust and efficient light emitters that have been used for static biological labeling. They are superior to organic dyes, which fade quickly and perturb the assayed cells. Larabells lab has shown that these nanocrystals are spontaneously ingested by a wide variety of cells while remaining fully luminescent, enabling researchers to examine live cells over extended time periods and to quantify changes in response to various molecular manipulations.
The Berkeley Lab technique is less labor intensive than the
Boyden Chamber invasion assay method, it does not require
killing the cells, and it enables real-time variation of external
conditions and analyses of cellular responses. It also overcomes
the marker problems encountered in the original phagokinetic
tracking methods. The method can be coupled to information
about chemical signals and allows a wide variety of tissue
culture substrates to be used, including growth on all extracellular
The improved cell motility studies and rapid assaying of metastatic potential enabled by this quantum dot method will provide improved diagnostics and enhanced information for cancer drug development.
REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-1755