Research Highlight

Cancer imager

doi:10.1038/nindia.2010.5 Published online 28 January 2010

Clusters of folic acid-bound gold nanoparticles can capture images of runaway oral and breast cancer cells. The nanoparticles could be useful in targeted imaging of cancer.

Researchers have reduced gold ions using ascorbic acid to yield gold nanoclusters. The nanoclusters were bound to folic acid via bovine serum albumin, a protein. The folic acid-bound nanoclusters were found internalised in significantly higher concentrations in oral and breast cancer cells.

Cell viability and reactive oxygen toxicity studies indicate the non-toxic nature of the nanoclusters, which worked both in acidic and basic medium.

This study demonstrates the potential of using non-toxic fluorescent gold nanoclusters for the targeted imaging of cancer, the researchers say.

The authors of this work are from: Amrita Centre for Nanoscience and Molecular Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Science, Cochin; Indian Institute of Technology, DST unit on Nanoscience, Chennai, India.


  1. Retnakumari, A. et al. Molecular-receptor-specific, non-toxic, near-infrared-emitting Au cluster-protein nanoconjugates for targeted cancer imaging. Nanotechnology 21, 055103 (2010)  | Article