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Team of Prof. Fan Xuegong Publishes Original Article on Theranostics against Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Renowned International Journal


Recently, the team of Prof. Fan Xuegong from Department of Infectious Diseases of Xiangya Hospital, Central South University joined forces with the team of Prof. Guo Mingming of Southwest University in medicine and engineering combined multidisciplinary research on the function of carbon quantum dots in theranostics against hepatocellular carcinoma. Their original research article was published in Journal of Nanobiotechnology (JCR-1, IF=10.435) online under the title “Tryptophan-Sorbitol Based Carbon Quantum Dots for Theranostics against Hepatocellular Carcinoma”. Researcher Wang Yang, Department of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine of Xiangya Hospital, Ph.D. Chen Jun, Department of Infectious Diseases of Xiangya Hospital, and Ph.D. Tian Jiekang, Southwest University are first authors. Prof. Li Ning, Department of  Blood Transfusion Department of Xiangya Hospital, Prof. Guo Mingming of Southwest University, and Prof. Fan Xuegong of Department of Infectious Diseases of Xiangya Hospital are corresponding authors. Xiangya Hospital of Central South University is the first affiliation and the affiliation of the first corresponding author.

Primary liver cancer is the sixth ranked cancer with high malignancy and poor prognosis, as well as the third leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. At present, due to the limitations of standard diagnosis and therapeutics, the early diagnosis of the highly fatal hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is inefficient. Potential screening and efficacious therapies to prolong the mean survival of HCC patients are urgently needed. Tumor theranostics not only provides precise information on position, type and size of tumors, but also functions as preferable therapeutics. Thus, theranostics has emerged as a hot spot research in cancer treatment.

With frontier developments of nanotechnology in medical field, an increasing number of nanomaterials are being used in cancer therapy. Of these functionalized nanomaterials, carbon quantum dots (CQDs) attract great research attention due to their unique advantages, including ultrasmall size, high water-solubility, excellent photoluminescence (PL), broad emission range and outstanding biocompatibility and become a key potential target for cancer theranostics research. Given these properties, CQDs become a potential theranostic nanomaterial to exhibit tumor identification and enhance anticancer effects.

In the above context, the research group tackled the problem along with the chemistry team of Southwest University and synthesized hybrid fluorescent CQDs (trichrome-tryptophan-sorbitol CQDs, TC-WS-CQDs) from natural biocompatible Tryptophan and sorbitol via a green hydrothermal method. The study showed that, compared with normal hepatocytes, TC-WS-CQDs were more willing to be selectively delivered into HCC cells by endocytosis. The TC-WS-CQDs exhibited strong visible blue, green and red fluorescence in tumor cells under different excitation wavelengths. Furthermore, the study found that upon irradiation at 470 nm, TC-WS-CQDs generated large amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading to autophagy of HCC cells. In addition, these TC-WS-CQDs performed significant tumor inhibition by inducing autophagy via p53-AMPK pathway in vitro and in vivo studies with almost no systemic toxicity. The results may highlight a promising anticancer nanotheranostic strategy with integration of diagnosis, targeting, and therapy.

Link to the Article: https://jnanobiotechnology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12951-022-01275-2

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