Methods employing fluorescence for biosensing are well established using organic dyes. However, quantum dots offer several advantages to fluorescent dyes, most notably the potential for the detection of multiple biomarkers through multiplexed imaging, which is enhanced by their narrow emission bandwidth. Quantum dot biosensing can be further enhanced by combination with magnetic separation methods via the recent development of magnetic quantum dots. An advantage of magnetic quantum dot (MQDs)-based separation to current approaches is the small size of MQDs, which are small enough to potentially interact with single biomarkers/cell surface receptors, thus enabling relative quantization of results. MQDs can be independently manipulated by engineering magnetic fields, and can also be used to isolate molecules and cells for downstream analysis. Early stage clinical results will be reported using detection of circulating tumor cells via Her-2 expression in metastatic breast cancer patients as a model. Collectively, these results indicate a promising future for potential commercialization of biosensing technologies based on quantum dots and their magnetic quantum dot counterparts.
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