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Selective Photothermal Killing of Cancer Cells Using LED-Activated Nucleus Targeting Fluorescent Carbon Dots

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2840-2846
Number of pages7
JournalNanoscale Advances
Issue number8
Early online date15 Jul 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Jul 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 15 Jul 2019


The development of effective theranostic probes in cancer therapy is hampered due to issues with selectivity and off-target toxicity. We report the selective LED-photothermal ablation of cervical (HeLa) cancer cells over human dermal fibroblasts (HDF) using a new class of green-emissive fluorescent carbon dots (FCDs). The FCDs can be easily prepared in one-pot using cheap and commercial starting materials. Physico-chemical characterization revealed that a surface coating of 2,5-deoxyfructosazine on a robust amorphous core renders the nanomaterial’s unique properties. We show that intracellular uptake mostly involves passive mechanisms in combination with intracellular DNA interactions to target the nucleus and that cancer cell selective killing is likely due to an increase in intracellular temperature in combination with ATP depletion, which is not observed upon of exposure to either the core FCD or the surface component individually. The selectivity of these nanoprobes and the lack of apparent production of toxic metabolic byproducts, makes these new nanomaterials promising agents in cancer therapy.

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