C Dots, or Cornell Dots, named for the university where they were first developed, have received approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)... to be used in a human clinical trial. The C Dots were first developed as optical probes, but have since been adapted for use as cancer cell trackers, assisting both the diagnosis and targeted treatment of cancer cells.
Cornell Dots, or C Dots, displayed in different environments: image via research.gov
This is the first time that the FDA has approved an inorganic nanoparticle platform for a human trial. The C dots are tiny silica spheres containing a special dye that glows three times brighter than other dyes. The best use of the C Dots, which can be made extremely small, is to locate cancerous cells near the surface of the skin. A radioactive label on the C Dots will enable PET-imaging of cancer cells.
The human trial will be conducted by researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Nanotechnology Center. Subjects will be persons with skin cancer. The trail will "evaluate the distribution, tissue uptake and safety of the particles in humans by PET imaging," so, for now, research is focused solely on the diagnostic aspect of the C Dots.
But Memorial Sloan-Kettering nanochemist, Oula Penate Medina, said that "Once the door has been opened, new and emerging fields, such as targeted drug
delivery, can be investigated. We expect that these particles can be adapted for
multiple clinical uses, including the early diagnosis and treatment of various
cancers, as well as for sensing changes in the microenvironment."
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center