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Bioconjug Chem. 2013 Mar 20;24(3):387-97. doi: 10.1021/bc3004809. Epub 2013 Mar 1.

Quantum-dot-conjugated graphene as a probe for simultaneous cancer-targeted fluorescent imaging, tracking, and monitoring drug delivery.

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  • 1Research Center for Analytical Sciences, Box 332, Northeastern University, Shenyang 110819, China.


We report a novel quantum-dot-conjugated graphene, i.e., hybrid SiO2-coated quantum dots (HQDs)-conjugated graphene, for targeted cancer fluorescent imaging, tracking, and monitoring drug delivery, as well as cancer therapy. The hybrid SiO2 shells on the surface of QDs not only mitigate its toxicity, but also protect its fluorescence from being quenched by graphene. By functionalizing the surface of HQDs-conjugated graphene (graphene-HQDs) with transferrin (Trf), we developed a targeted imaging system capable of differential uptake and imaging of cancer cells that express the Trf receptor. The widely used fluorescent antineoplastic anthracycline drug, doxorubicin (DOX), is adsorbed on the surface of graphene and results in a large loading capacity of 1.4 mg mg(-1). It is advantageous that the new delivery system exhibits different fluorescence color in between graphene-HQDs and DOX in the aqueous core upon excitation at a same wavelength for the purpose of tracking and monitoring drug delivery. This simple multifunctional nanoparticle system can deliver DOX to the targeted cancer cells and enable us to localize the graphene-HQDs and monitor intracellular DOX release. The specificity and safety of the nanoparticle conjugate for cancer imaging, monitoring, and therapy has been demonstrated in vitro.

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