Priyanka Dey @ NanoBio&Med2020

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COVID takes RaNT to first virtual scientific conference.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have temporarily paused RaNT’s lab-based research, but that has not stopped us from engaging with the scientific community.

National lockdowns and social distancing rules meant the cancellation or postponement of many scientific conferences this year. However, some have been adapted into a virtual format, and today, RaNT got it’s first taste of the new online conference style.

Far from its traditional in-person November calendar slot in Barcelona, Spain, Dr. Priyanka Dey attended the virtual NanoBio&Med2020 meeting, live from her work-from-home desk.

Priyanka spoke about building her ‘multi-tentacle’ gold nano-assemblies; clusters of nanoparticles designed to respond at wavelengths of light capable of reaching deep inside the body, and generating a surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) signal strong enough to escape back through to the surface of the skin.

This nanocluster morphology shows improved biocompatibility, and might provide the signal boosting potential to locate tumours with scattered light at previously inaccessible depths. Dr. Dey also outlined how well these clusters perform at converting light to heat; promising candidates for the tumour killing heat generators that we hope will underpin RaNT’s therapeutic element.


You can read Priyanka’s paper developing this work here.


Our recent publication reviewing light-mediated cancer theranostics can be found here.

Gold Nano-assemblies as SER-NIR-PTT theranostic agent: Tentacles more powerful than satellites

Author: Priyanka Dey

Theranostics has been a key research area in the past decade and is growing in importance as researchers around the world are able to effectively bridge diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Light-mediated optical theranostic i.e., diagnostic and therapeutic agents based on gold nanostructures have become increasingly popular [1]. Thus, designing gold nano-assemblies for efficient surface-enhanced Raman (SERS) detection and high light-to-heat conversion for photothermal therapy (PTT) is crucial towards realizing the goal of optical theranostics. Multi-branched polymeric linkers have been effective in controlling gold nano-assembly morphologies [2].

Here we report on low plasmon enhancers such as 15 nm and 5 nm spherical gold nanoparticles (NPs) fashioned into a unique colloidal gold nano-assembly morphology that features intensive NIR plasmon coupling. The developed nano-assembly morphology mimics multiple tentacles, each composed of multiple 5 nm NPs, anchored randomly onto a 15 nm core that is held together by a flexible branched polymeric linker. We show that this morphology is the key to such continuum near-infrared (NIR) broadband localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) profile. The LSPR extends into the tissue transparency region and surpasses the plasmon behaviour of a typical core satellite nano-assembly made from the same building blocks [3]. Furthermore, its approximate size of 70 nm, composition of nano-gold and polyethylene glycol polymer, and demonstrated biocompatibility towards human non-cancerous cell line Wi-38 makes it an ideal candidate for in vivo nanomedicine applications. SERS (830 nm laser excitation) of labelled core multi-tentacle nano-assemblies could be detected with the SERS label concentration below 50 nM with high SNR (comparable to larger 100-200 nm gold nanostars which have limited in vivo use), as well as having enhanced photothermal heat conversion. Thus, the high SERS amplification of the multi-tentacle nano-assemblies, coupled with its improved PTT potential and lower toxicity towards human cancerous cell line MCF7, suggests its potential as an optical NIR-SERS-PTT theranostic agent.


[1] T. A. Tabish, P. Dey, S. Mosca, M. Salimi, F. Palombo, P. Matousek & N. Stone; Advanced Science; 1903441 (2020)

[2] P. Dey, I. Blakey, K. J. Thurecht & P. M. Fredericks; Langmuir; 29: 523 (2013)

[3] P. Dey, T. A. Tabish, S. Mosca, F. Palombo, P. Matousek & N. Stone; Small; 1906780 (2020)