Published: 08th November 2018
IIT Roorkee researchers develop carbon nanodots from rose leaves that can diagnose and destroy cancer cells
Dr Gopinath’s team has synthesised carbon nanodots by heating the leaves of Catharanthus roseus, commonly called rosy periwinkle and Vinca rosea
A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee have developed fluorescent carbon nanodots that can potentially diagnose and treat certain cancers. And these dots have been extracted from the leaves from the rosy periwinkle plant! Led by Dr P Gopinath, the team has created these nanosized (10-9 nanometre) carbon materials from the leaves of the rosy periwinkle plant. Their work, supported by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, has recently been published in the journal Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces.
Dr Gopinath’s team synthesised the carbon nanodots by heating the leaves of Catharanthus roseus, commonly called rosy periwinkle and Vinca rosea, using a hydrothermal reaction. We spoke to him to find out how it worked. Excerpts:
How will your research help in tackling cancer in India?
Therapeutic choices should be affordable and easily accessible in India. Our research aims to develop low-cost efficient anti-cancer therapeutic options. If this nanotag-based approach is successful in animal and clinical trials, then it may be a low-cost nanomedicine to cure the dreadful disease that is cancer.
How does it work on cancer cells?
Real-time image-guided anticancer therapy by a single system has opened new paradigm in this field. With these nanomaterials, we can identify the cancer cells and track them by an imaging system simultaneously as the cells themselves are being eradicated in a precise surgical strike.
Before choosing periwinkle leaves, what were the previous resources you used to achieve the same result?
We have also done a green synthesis of multifunctional carbon dots from coriander leaves and investigated their potential application as antioxidants, sensors and bioimaging agents. However, they are non-toxic and do not kill cancer cells.
What do you see as the initial challenges when India tries to adopt this method into their healthcare model?
This plant is already in use as an Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of various diseases. Thus, once the efficiency and mechanism of our carbon dots are studied in animal models it can be translated to clinics.
With the promising observations, Dr Gopinath and his team are planning next stage animal studies for further evaluation of these nanomaterials in oncological applications, for both diagnostics and treatment. They will concurrently study the factors that would affect the performance and use of carbon nanodots in cancer theranostics, including developing efficient means of delivery, processes for the conservation of nanodot bioactivity and the enhancement of specificity towards the target cells.