The healthcare industry is already embracing nanotechnology for everything from potential MS treatment to gene therapy and rewarming cryogenically frozen organs, so the quantum dot discovery could someday find uses beyond cancer treatment.
It may be a while before tea-derived quantum dots can be used on actual cancer patients, as conducting experiments in a Petri dish does not always translate to the intricacy of the human body or the complexity of cancer cells. The team, however, is optimistic, especially since lung cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, affecting 1 in 15 people in their lifetime and bearing a low 18 percent survival rate — the lowest of any of the other common cancers such as breast and prostate. (Only 50 percent of women diagnosed with lung cancer will live one year, compared with 90 percent of women with breast cancer.)
“Building on this exciting discovery, the next step is to scale up our operation, hopefully with the help of other collaborators. We want to investigate the role of tea leaf extract in cancer cell imaging, and the interface between quantum dots and the cancer cell,” said Dr. Pitchaimuthu. “We would like to set up a ‘quantum dot factory’ which will allow us to explore more fully the ways in which they can be used.”