Quantum dots (QDs) were first proposed for biological imaging by the groups of Shuming Nie and Paul Alivisatos in 1998, yet nearly 20 years later, there are no commercial QD products in the clinical market. This talk will address the challenges that have prevented rapid translation of QDs to the clinic.
Current commercial offerings, while widely used in research applications, display significant variability in quality. We will show that QD quality can vary by vendor, product line, and even from lot-to-lot. All of these challenges not only prevent commercialization in a highly regulated clinical market, but also call into question published research results employing these products.
QDs with the best optical properties, including high quantum yield and narrow emission bands, are typically produced via organic synthesis. Yet, biology requires an aqueous presentation. Unfortunately, most methods of aqueous phase transfer result in a reduction in photoluminescence quantum yield. Even when transfer is achieved, QD stability can be poor with further reductions in quantum yield resulting from dilution, transfer to biological buffers and medium, and bioconjugation protocols.
In addition to these challenges, many bench scale processes are suitable for only small volumes of material processing. In our case, the initial batch method employed produced only 1/100th the amount of material required for a single mouse study. Thus, scalable methods of manufacturing are required.
This talk will explore current issues in commercialization of QDs for the biological and particularly clinical market.