Special Issue "Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy"

A special issue of Nanomaterials (ISSN 2079-4991). This special issue belongs to the section "Biology and Medicines".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Run Zhang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia
Interests: analytical chemistry; biosensing and bioimaging; photochemistry; nanotechnology; nano-bio interface chemistry; nanobiosensors; theranostic nanomaterials
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Cutting-edge biomedicine has a particular emphasis on the development of novel nanomaterials for disease diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring treatment response of diseases. Among various materials, optical nanomaterials with unique fluorescence or luminescence emissions have attracted considerable attention in recent years. The developed optical nanomaterials can be easily used for the detection and visualization of important biomarkers inside the body, and, thus, benefit the diagnosis of various diseases. Optical nanomaterials designed at the nanoscale level have also contributed significantly to disease treatment, such as cancer therapy, by delivering drugs, genes, small molecules, and proteins to specific diseased lesions. Based on their superiority in photochemistry and photophysics, treatment can be monitored in real-time by recording the evolutions of optical photons.

This Special Issue aims to provide a forum for communication among scientists in the fields of nanomaterials science, photochemistry-photophysics-photobiology, nanobiophotonics, and nano-theranostics. Fluorescence, phosphorescence, bioluminescence, and electrochemical luminescence techniques will be discussed in this Special Issue. The development of next-generation optical nanomaterials, such as polymer, metal–organic frameworks and inorganic nanoparticles are within the scope. Studies on the cutting-edge nanomaterial preparations, innovative methodologies on surface chemistry, unique mechanisms of the nano-bio interface, and relevant diagnostic and therapeutic applications will also be included. The applications of optical materials in various research areas, such as biosensing, bioimaging, drug/gene/protein delivery, phototherapy, etc., will be further discussed.

Dr. Run Zhang
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Optical materials
  • Luminescence
  • Nanomedicine
  • Drug Delivery
  • Phototherapy
  • Nano-bio-interface

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Communication
Empowering the Emission of Upconversion Nanoparticles for Precise Subcellular Imaging
Nanomaterials 2021, 11(6), 1541; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11061541 - 11 Jun 2021
Viewed by 856
Abstract
Upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) are a class of inorganic fluorophores that follow the anti-Stokes mechanism, to which the wavelength of emission is shorter than absorption. This unique optical behavior generates relatively long-lived intermediate energy levels of lanthanides that stabilize the excitation state in the [...] Read more.
Upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) are a class of inorganic fluorophores that follow the anti-Stokes mechanism, to which the wavelength of emission is shorter than absorption. This unique optical behavior generates relatively long-lived intermediate energy levels of lanthanides that stabilize the excitation state in the fluorescence process. Longer-wavelength light sources, e.g., near-infrared (NIR), penetrate deeper into biological materials such as tissue and cells that provide a larger working space for cell biology applications and imaging, whereby UCNPs have recently gained increasing interest in medicine. In this report, the emission intensity of a gadolinium-based UCNP was screened by changing the concentrations of the constituents. The optimized condition was utilized as a luminescent nanoprobe for targeting the mitochondria as a distinguished subcellular organelle within differentiated neuroblastoma cells. The main goal of this study is to illustrate the targeting process within the cells in a native state using modified UCNPs. Confocal microscopy on the cells treated with the functionalized UCNPs indicated a selective accumulation of UCNPs after immunolabeling. To tackle the insolubility of as-synthesized particles in water-based media, the optimized UCNPs were surface-coated with polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimers that due to peripheral amino groups are suitable for functionalizing with peptides and antibodies. Ultimately, we concluded that UCNPs are potentially versatile and ideal tools for NIR bioimaging and capable of making adequate contrast against biomaterials to be detectable in electron microscopy (EM) imaging. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
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Article
CdSe Quantum Dots in Human Models Derived from ALS Patients: Characterization, Nuclear Penetration Studies and Multiplexing
Nanomaterials 2021, 11(3), 671; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11030671 - 09 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 547
Abstract
CdSe quantum dots (QDs) are valuable tools for deciphering molecular mechanisms in cells. Their conjugation with antibodies offers a unique staining source with optimal characteristics, including increased photostability and narrow emission spectra, allowing for improved multiplexing capabilities using a single excitation source. In [...] Read more.
CdSe quantum dots (QDs) are valuable tools for deciphering molecular mechanisms in cells. Their conjugation with antibodies offers a unique staining source with optimal characteristics, including increased photostability and narrow emission spectra, allowing for improved multiplexing capabilities using a single excitation source. In combination with pathology models derived from patients, they have great potential to contribute to quantitative molecular profiling and promote personalized medicine. However, the commercial availability of diverse CdSe QDs is still limited and characterization techniques must be performed to these materials or the conjugates developed in the lab to assure a proper function and reproducibility. Furthermore, while there is significant data of QDs experiments in cell lines, the literature with primary human cells is scarce, and QD behavior in these systems may be different. Rigorous characterization data of commercially available QDs and their conjugates with biomolecules of interest is needed in order to establish their potential for target labelling and expand their use among research labs. Here we compare the characterization and labelling performance of different QD conjugates in SH-SY5Y cell line, fibroblasts and immortalized lymphocytes derived from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
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Article
Gold Nanoparticles Functionalized with Angiogenin for Wound Care Application
Nanomaterials 2021, 11(1), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11010201 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 890
Abstract
In this work, we aimed to develop a hybrid theranostic nano-formulation based on gold nanoparticles (AuNP)—having a known anti-angiogenic character—and the angiogenin (ANG), in order to tune the angiogenesis-related phases involved in the multifaceted process of the wound healing. To this purpose, spherical [...] Read more.
In this work, we aimed to develop a hybrid theranostic nano-formulation based on gold nanoparticles (AuNP)—having a known anti-angiogenic character—and the angiogenin (ANG), in order to tune the angiogenesis-related phases involved in the multifaceted process of the wound healing. To this purpose, spherical were surface “decorated” with three variants of the protein, namely, the recombinant (rANG), the wild-type, physiologically present in the human plasma (wtANG) and a new mutant with a cysteine substitution of the serine at the residue 28 (S28CANG). The hybrid biointerface between AuNP and ANG was scrutinized by a multi-technique approach based on dynamic light scattering, spectroscopic (UV-visible, circular dichroism) and microscopic (atomic force and laser scanning confocal) techniques. The analyses of optical features of plasmonic gold nanoparticles allowed for discrimination of different adsorption modes—i.e.; predominant physisorption and/or chemisorption—triggered by the ANG primary sequence. Biophysical experiments with supported lipid bilayers (SLB), an artificial model of cell membrane, were performed by means of quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring acoustic sensing technique. Cellular experiments on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC), in the absence or presence of copper—another co-player of angiogenesis—were carried out to assay the nanotoxicity of the hybrid protein-gold nanoassemblies as well as their effect on cell migration and tubulogenesis. Results pointed to the promising potential of these nanoplatforms, especially the new hybrid Au-S28CANG obtained with the covalent grafting of the mutant on the gold surface, for the modulation of angiogenesis processes in wound care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
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Article
Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 Conjugated to Quantum Dot®s is Biologically Functional
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(6), 1208; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10061208 - 20 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1011
Abstract
Quantum Dot®s (QDot®s) are novel, semi-conductive nanostructures that emit a certain fluorescence when excited by specific wavelengths. QDot®s are more photostable, brighter, and photobleach less than other fluorescent dyes. These characteristics give them the potential to be [...] Read more.
Quantum Dot®s (QDot®s) are novel, semi-conductive nanostructures that emit a certain fluorescence when excited by specific wavelengths. QDot®s are more photostable, brighter, and photobleach less than other fluorescent dyes. These characteristics give them the potential to be used in many biological applications. The shells of QDot®s are coated with functional groups, such as carboxylate and organic groups, allowing them to couple to peptides/proteins and be used for real-time imaging and high-resolution microscopy. Here, we utilize Quantum Dot®s and Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 (BMP-2) to create a BMP-2-QDot®s conjugate. BMP-2 is a growth factor that drives many processes such as cardiogenesis, neural growth, and osteogenesis. Despite its numerous roles, the trafficking and uptake of BMP-2 into cells is not well-established, especially during progression of diseases. The results presented here demonstrate for the first time a fluorescent BMP-2 analog that binds to the BMP-receptors (BMPRs), remains biologically active, and is stable for long time periods. Previous attempts to develop a biological BMP-2 analog with Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) or nanodiamonds lacked data on the analog’s stability. Furthermore, these analogs did not address whether they can signal within the cell by binding to the BMPRs or were mediated by non-stable conjugates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
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Article
Biocompatibility and Bioimaging Potential of Fruit-Based Carbon Dots
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(2), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9020199 - 03 Feb 2019
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2628
Abstract
Photo-luminescent carbon dots (CD) have become promising nanomaterials and their synthesis from natural products has attracted attention by the possibility of making the most of affordable, sustainable and, readily-available carbon sources. Here, we report on the synthesis, characterization and bioimaging potential of CDs [...] Read more.
Photo-luminescent carbon dots (CD) have become promising nanomaterials and their synthesis from natural products has attracted attention by the possibility of making the most of affordable, sustainable and, readily-available carbon sources. Here, we report on the synthesis, characterization and bioimaging potential of CDs produced from diverse extensively produced fruits: kiwi, avocado and pear. The in vitro cytotoxicity and anticancer potential of those CDs were assessed by comparing human epithelial cells from normal adult kidney and colorectal adenocarcinoma cells. In vivo toxicity was evaluated using zebrafish embryos given their peculiar embryogenesis, with transparent embryos developing ex-utero, allowing a real-time analysis. In vitro and in vivo experiments revealed that the synthesized CD presented toxicity only at concentrations of ≥1.5 mg mL−1. Kiwi CD exhibited the highest toxicity to both cells lines and zebrafish embryos, presenting lower LD50 values. Interestingly, despite inducing lower cytotoxicity in normal cells than the other CDs, black pepper CDs resulted in higher toxicity in vivo. The bio-distribution of CD in zebrafish embryos upon uptake was investigated using fluorescence microscopy. We observed a higher accumulation of CD in the eye and yolk sac, avocado CD being the ones more retained, indicating their potential usefulness in bio-imaging applications. This study shows the action of fruit-based CDs from kiwi, avocado and pear. However the compounds present in these fruit-based CDs and their mechanism of action as a bioimaging agent need to be further explored. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
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Article
Enhanced Peroxidase-Like Activity of MoS2 Quantum Dots Functionalized g-C3N4 Nanosheets towards Colorimetric Detection of H2O2
Nanomaterials 2018, 8(12), 976; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano8120976 - 26 Nov 2018
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2483
Abstract
MoS2 quantum dots (QDs) functionalized g-C3N4 nanosheets (MoS2@CNNS) were prepared through a protonation-assisted ion exchange method, which were developed as a highly efficient biomimetic catalyst. Structural analysis revealed that uniformly-dispersed MoS2 QDs with controllable size and [...] Read more.
MoS2 quantum dots (QDs) functionalized g-C3N4 nanosheets (MoS2@CNNS) were prepared through a protonation-assisted ion exchange method, which were developed as a highly efficient biomimetic catalyst. Structural analysis revealed that uniformly-dispersed MoS2 QDs with controllable size and different loading amount grew in-situ on the surface of CNNS, forming close-contact MoS2@CNNS nanostructures and exhibiting distinct surface properties. Compared to MoS2 QDs and CNNS, the MoS2@CNNS nanocomposites exhibited a more than four times stronger peroxidase-like catalytic activity, which could catalyze the oxidation of 3,3’,5,5’-tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) in the presence of H2O2 to generate a blue oxide. Among the MoS2@CNNS nanocomposites, MoS2@CNNS(30) was verified to present the best intrinsic peroxidase-like performance, which could be attributed to the more negative potential and larger specific surface area. A simple, rapid and ultrasensitive system for colorimetric detection of H2O2 was thus successfully established based on MoS2@CNNS, displaying nice selectivity, reusability, and stability. The detection limit of H2O2 could reach as low as 0.02 μM. Furthermore, the kinetic and active species trapping experiments indicated the peroxidase-like catalytic mechanism of MoS2@CNNS. This work develops a novel, rapid, and ultrasensitive approach for visual assay of H2O2, which has a potential application prospect on clinical diagnosis and biomedical analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
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Article
Highly Photoluminescent and Stable N-Doped Carbon Dots as Nanoprobes for Hg2+ Detection
Nanomaterials 2018, 8(11), 900; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano8110900 - 02 Nov 2018
Cited by 27 | Viewed by 2174
Abstract
We developed a microreactor with porous copper fibers for synthesizing nitrogen-doped carbon dots (N-CDs) with a high stability and photoluminescence (PL) quantum yield (QY). By optimizing synthesis conditions, including the reaction temperature, flow rate, ethylenediamine dosage, and porosity of copper fibers, the N-CDs [...] Read more.
We developed a microreactor with porous copper fibers for synthesizing nitrogen-doped carbon dots (N-CDs) with a high stability and photoluminescence (PL) quantum yield (QY). By optimizing synthesis conditions, including the reaction temperature, flow rate, ethylenediamine dosage, and porosity of copper fibers, the N-CDs with a high PL QY of 73% were achieved. The PL QY of N-CDs was two times higher with copper fibers than without. The interrelations between the copper fibers with different porosities and the N-CDs were investigated using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The results demonstrate that the elemental contents and surface functional groups of N-CDs are significantly influenced by the porosity of copper fibers. The N-CDs can be used to effectively and selectively detect Hg2+ ions with a good linear response in the 0~50 μM Hg2+ ions concentration range, and the lowest limit of detection (LOD) is 2.54 nM, suggesting that the N-CDs have great potential for applications in the fields of environmental and hazard detection. Further studies reveal that the different d orbital energy levels of Hg2+ compared to those of other metal ions can affect the efficiency of electron transfer and thereby result in their different response in fluorescence quenching towards N-CDs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
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Review

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Review
Carbon Dot Nanoparticles: Exploring the Potential Use for Gene Delivery in Ophthalmic Diseases
Nanomaterials 2021, 11(4), 935; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11040935 - 06 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1114
Abstract
Ocular gene therapy offers significant potential for preventing retinal dystrophy in patients with inherited retinal dystrophies (IRD). Adeno-associated virus (AAV) based gene transfer is the most common and successful gene delivery approach to the eye. These days, many studies are using non-viral nanoparticles [...] Read more.
Ocular gene therapy offers significant potential for preventing retinal dystrophy in patients with inherited retinal dystrophies (IRD). Adeno-associated virus (AAV) based gene transfer is the most common and successful gene delivery approach to the eye. These days, many studies are using non-viral nanoparticles (NPs) as an alternative therapeutic option because of their unique properties and biocompatibility. Here, we discuss the potential of carbon dots (CDs), a new type of nanocarrier for gene delivery to the retinal cells. The unique physicochemical properties of CDs (such as optical, electronic, and catalytic) make them suitable for biosensing, imaging, drug, and gene delivery applications. Efficient gene delivery to the retinal cells using CDs depends on various factors, such as photoluminescence, quantum yield, biocompatibility, size, and shape. In this review, we focused on different approaches used to synthesize CDs, classify CDs, various pathways for the intake of gene-loaded carbon nanoparticles inside the cell, and multiple studies that worked on transferring nucleic acid in the eye using CDs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
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Review
Graphene Oxide-Coated Gold Nanorods: Synthesis and Applications
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(11), 2149; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10112149 - 28 Oct 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1258
Abstract
The application of gold nanorods (AuNRs) and graphene oxide (GO) has been widely studied due to their unique properties. Although each material has its own challenges, their combination produces an exceptional material for many applications such as sensor, therapeutics, and many others. This [...] Read more.
The application of gold nanorods (AuNRs) and graphene oxide (GO) has been widely studied due to their unique properties. Although each material has its own challenges, their combination produces an exceptional material for many applications such as sensor, therapeutics, and many others. This review covers the progress made so far in the synthesis and application of GO-coated AuNRs (GO–AuNRs). Initially, it highlights different methods of synthesizing AuNRs and GO followed by two approaches (ex situ and in situ approaches) of coating AuNRs with GO. In addition, the properties of GO–AuNRs composite such as biocompatibility, photothermal profiling, and their various applications, which include photothermal therapy, theranostic, sensor, and other applications of GO–AuNRs are also discussed. The review concludes with challenges associated with GO–AuNRs and future perspectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
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Review
Developing Protein-Based Nanoparticles as Versatile Delivery Systems for Cancer Therapy and Imaging
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(9), 1329; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9091329 - 16 Sep 2019
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 3169
Abstract
In recent years, it has become apparent that cancer nanomedicine’s reliance on synthetic nanoparticles as drug delivery systems has resulted in limited clinical outcomes. This is mostly due to a poor understanding of their “bio–nano” interactions. Protein-based nanoparticles (PNPs) are rapidly emerging as [...] Read more.
In recent years, it has become apparent that cancer nanomedicine’s reliance on synthetic nanoparticles as drug delivery systems has resulted in limited clinical outcomes. This is mostly due to a poor understanding of their “bio–nano” interactions. Protein-based nanoparticles (PNPs) are rapidly emerging as versatile vehicles for the delivery of therapeutic and diagnostic agents, offering a potential alternative to synthetic nanoparticles. PNPs are abundant in nature, genetically and chemically modifiable, monodisperse, biocompatible, and biodegradable. To harness their full clinical potential, it is important for PNPs to be accurately designed and engineered. In this review, we outline the recent advancements and applications of PNPs in cancer nanomedicine. We also discuss the future directions for PNP research and what challenges must be overcome to ensure their translation into the clinic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
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