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Nanodiamond Labeling With Fluorescent Biomarkers

Updated on May 6, 2012

Nanodiamond Fluorescent Biomarkers Will Push Nanomedicine Into Future

photo by natatwo on Flickr
photo by natatwo on Flickr

Nanodiamond Mapping of Biological Systems

Nanodiamonds are coming to light as an increasingly promising tool for scientists and researchers to further their understanding of biological systems through the use of fluorescent nanodiamond markers which, through laser-induced fluorescence, are able to probe individual biomolecules and record how they mingle with each other during in vivo testing procedures. Nanodiamonds, as the name suggests, are simply smaller derivatives of their larger diamond counterparts and their nanoscale size and traditional diamond characteristics lend well to optical and medicinal pursuits. The nanometer size diamonds are commonly produced during an explosion of TNT or Research Department Explosive (RDX) although other energy transformations prevalent on the mystical planet of Earth can manifest pressures and conditions great enough for nanodiamond formation. Often brought up with the conversation of "space diamonds" like the mysterious carbonado of South America and Africa, nanodiamonds can be found at the site of meteor impact craters. The impact shock zone of such craters can leave a trail of breadcrumb nanodiamonds which rockhounds and other interested parties can often use as a telltale sign to trace massive dents in the Earth's crust back to ancient meteorite origins.

Being water soluble and having a good biocompatibility are properties that allow them to avoid inducing inflammation and make them choice candidates to replace currently used organic dyes and fluorescent proteins as the more modern biological fluorescent probe. While the dyes and proteins can work well to avoid the fluorescent background signal interference of things like collagens and flavins, they are usually prone to such destructive photochemical effects as photobleaching in fluorophores or photoblinking degradation. Semiconductor quantum dots can offer less problematic photochemical reactions while behaving like an ideal biological fluorescent probe that absorbs light with wavelength metrics greater than 500nm and simultaneously emitting light wavelengths greater than 600nm providing cell and tissue penetration critical to analysis. The quality of such quantum dot probes, however, is limited by the cyotoxicity, or cell toxicity, and subsequent human toxicity levels which must be dealt with in various surface chemistry modification methods to create any feasibility for cellular biomarker usage and medical imaging processes. Enter the nanodiamond fluorescent biomarker..

The nanodiamonds making up a nanodiamond fluorescent biomarker have a negligible level of human toxicity due to their primary construction from the element Carbon which organic life is created from. Further, the desired nanodiamond fluorescent biomarker effects can be achieved through the introduction of point defects in the nanodiamond crystal lattice rather than relying on surface manipulation. Such point defects, as the negatively charged nitrogen vacancy center defect, deliver fluorescence properties outside the spectral interference region of endogenous substance present in the human body. The carbon-based nanoparticles, or "carbon dots," provide fluorescence efficiency comparable to existing quantum dots while maintaining an almost indefinite shelf-life making long term in vivo studies more approachable.

Further areas of future medicinal progress are also seeing new light with the coming of age of detonation nanodiamonds. Anticancer drugs like doxorubicin are receiving power-ups from nanoparticles in laboratory experiments with mice. Such cancer fighting drugs can run into problems when attacking malignant tumors where the cancer cells have become drug resistant and simply pump out the medicine before it has had the proper time to perform its duties. Something like 90% of anticancer drug failures can be attributed to this flushing out of treatments. By attaching the drug to a nanodiamond base researchers are fighting back against the cellular transport proteins which limit the cure's potency. This led to experiments showing that nanodiamond drug delivery systems kept levels of doxorubicin higher for longer in lab mice and subsequently shrunk tumors faster and prolonged the mouse's life expectancy. There is much medical breakthrough potential in terms of using nanodiamonds as both a super active sorbent as well as a bio-orientation agent to enhance curative effects.

Companies such as Czech Republic-based Nanogroup Co., Carbodeon and Dynalene are offering opportunities for researchers to buy nanodiamond particles developed through detonation synthesis in order to conduct their own experiments to determine suitability for nanodiamond fluorescent biomarkers usage or otherwise. One can order various grades of nanoparticle diamond material for everything from polishing applications to oil/lubricant additives up to medicine pharmaceutical grade levels. A consumer can purchase these superhard nanomaterials in various forms from naonodiamond powder, a water dispersion solution, or a different mixture. Prices look reasonable with a one gram sample at a price of about $25. Your wife might not appreciate a nanodiamond solitaire as a Christmas present but the future of this carbon allotrope is bright.


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    • againsttheodds profile image

      againsttheodds 6 years ago

      Good point about nanodiamonds being found in oil Larry. I was not aware of that. I think there is an extremely solid case for the abiotic theory of oil and absolutely no reason for the government or any of the large oil companies to reveal the conspiracy. They can pretend to be pushing for energy alternatives but really want to eliminate any viable solution that emerges to keep us dependent on crude oil or "fossil fuels."

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 6 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Interesting article ato! (I hope you do not mind calling you with this abbreviation of against the odds, though that name is interesting, I wonder why u thought of that?)

      Quite interesting facts.

      It is interesting that we can invent much better technologies and it seems to much easier to go to moon or out far off in space then to do the same in our own bodies.

      Indian philosophies and medical ideas (ayurveda) have been developed using a concept of our subtle body (for example idea that our mind and internal sense organs etc. are made up of very minute and transparent particles, because of transparency and minuteness they can not be perceived by sense organs). I think sometimes they even tried to assess how minute they are.

      These nano diamonds also perhaps our sense organs can not detect. I wonder whether some of these technologies can be used to analyse better some of these style of medical styles and their model of body(ayurveda works for many ailments much better, there is very little doubt that understanding reached by their model of body makes sense for many aspects of our health).

    • againsttheodds profile image

      againsttheodds 6 years ago

      larry and moonprobe, thanks for the comments. I'm sure there are nanodiamonds to be found in the lunar regolith due to meteorites and other impacts on the moon's surface. I'm with you and can't wait until something else lands up there. But, the price of grams of nanodiamonds is fairly low and can be made in explosive chambers through a process called dynamic detonation nanodiamond synthesis. It is precisely one of these chambers which the International Atomic Energy Agency is using to push for a war against Iran. Check out my newest article on that subject if you like.

    • moonprobe profile image

      moonprobe 6 years ago from Illinois

      This is amazing. That would be great if the moon is full of them . We will soon find out. Surely it would have to contain some

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 6 years ago from Northern California

      Voted up.

      Speaking of adamantane derivatives, nanodiamonds are commonly found in the oil that we pump out of the ground. Some geologists take this as one of the pieces of evidence for the abiotic hypothesis of petroleum origins. You need much higher temperatures and pressures for the formation of diamonds--nano or otherwise--than are found in the deepest of oil wells. Kenney (spelling?) is a major figure in this politically incorrect line of scientific inquiry.


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