New glow-in-the-dark materials can trace the path of drugs through the human body

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Western University researchers have developed a material that could eventually improve the way drugs are given to patients, by allowing doctors to “see” whether the drugs are exactly hitting the targets and working properly.

By combining materials already used for delivery Drugs to specific locations in the body with other glow-in-the-dark (optical probe), Associate Professor Lijia Liu and graduate student Ellie WT Shiu created a compound that can be used to trace the drug transporter pathway through human body. In the short term, the new approach could be used to monitor drugs used to treat cancer and bone disease — but it could eventually have a wide range of therapeutic applications.

With the help of the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), Xiu and Liu were able to see the interaction between the illuminated optical system and medicine Transporter. Their findings were recently published in the journal physical chemistry chemical physics.

“Our visual sensor is kind of like glow-in-the-dark paint or when you walk into a club wearing those paints. [glow-stick] bracelets, and you can still see the light.”

The probe designed by Liu and Xiu will be emitting soon infrared light It can be traced through standard bio-imaging techniques. This system is much safer than other sensors that need a radiation source to produce light.

Credit: Canadian Light Source

This impressive research began as an undergraduate project for Shiu, who is currently a master’s student in Liu’s lab. Shiu was able to collaborate with CLS scientists who helped her conduct the experiments remotely.

“I gained a lot of insight from meaningful conversations with the scientists at CLS,” Chiu says.

There are elements of Liu and Xiu’s research that cannot be achieved without the use of synchrotron technology.

“There is one particular technique that can only be done on a synchrotron, and this piece of the puzzle is very important in terms of understanding the structure of our materials,” says Liu.

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more information:
Wai-Tung Shiu et al, Synthesis and characterization of the near-infrared saturated calcium-phosphate-calcium phosphate complex, physical chemistry chemical physics (2022). DOI: 10.1039 / D2CP03431J

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