Newswise — A neurosurgeon at the Methodist Neurological Institute (NI) is the
first to use an enzyme-driven technique to label nanotubes with quantum dots,
giving scientists a better way to see single-walled carbon nanotubes.
The ability to do this labeling allows nanotubes,
nanomachines, or other nanoscale optical devices
to be used for biomedical research. One practical
application might include the precise delivery of
medications to specific cancer cells, effectively
sparing surrounding healthy cells.
Dr. David Baskin, neurosurgeon at the Methodist
NI, and his colleagues published these research findings
in the March 2006 issue of BioTechniques .
Dr. Baskin and Vladimir Didenko, PhD used an enzyme
to create a permanent bond to attach semi-conductor
nanocrystals, or Q-dots, to nanotubes. Because nanotubes
absorb light, making them invisible, researchers
have tried to find ways to make them visible inside
living organisms. The light absorption properties
of the nanotubes are bypassed by using the Q-dots.
“By attaching these Q-dots like beads on a string,
we have the potential to link tens, hundreds, thousands
of these strings together, creating nanomachines
that can act like probes, giving researchers a new
view into cancer cells, proteins, and DNA molecules,” said
Once fluorescent, nanotubes can be observed by microscopes,
which could enable the construction of nano-size
devices. “We're talking about the possibility of
one day developing probes for biomedical research,
quantum computing, possibly even a quantum internet,” said
Dr. Baskin. “That would be huge in the world of nanoscience.”
In addition to this research, Drs. Baskin and Didenko
have also worked with the late Dr. Richard Smalley,
the Nobel laureate who developed the “buckyball.” Their
research focused on manipulating carbon nanotubes
to create fluorescent probes, something no other
researcher had ever accomplished. Drs. Baskin, Didenko,
and Smalley created a way to tightly wrap a polymer
material around a nanotube, like a spool of thread,
allowing them to label a nanotube. This resulted
in a fluorescent probe and made individual nanotubes
observable by a fluorescent microscope. An article
on this research, co-authored with Dr. Smalley, can
be found in Nano Letters; 2005, Vol. 5, No. 8.
A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, too small
to be seen with a conventional lab microscope. It
is at this size scale, about 100 nanometers or less,
that biological molecules and structures inside living
About the Methodist Neurological Institute
The Methodist Neurological Institute houses the
practice and research activities of the departments
of neurology, neurosurgery and neuroradiology of
The Methodist Hospital. The close collaboration between
these departments offers patients the most advanced
treatment options currently available. The mission
of the NI is to advance the discovery of the origins,
mechanisms, and treatment of neurological disease,
and to provide comprehensive care for patients with
disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord.
The Methodist Hospital is one of the nation's largest
private, non-profit general hospitals. Methodist
is primarily affiliated with Weill Medical College
of Cornell University and New York Presbyterian Hospital.
The hospital is also affiliated with the University
For more on the Methodist Neurological Institute,
visit http://www.methodistneuroinstitute.com ,
or call (713) 790-3333.