Nanoco Group PLC

Realizing the Life Sciences Future of Quantum Dots: Imad Naasani

Published on 28/4/2017

Despite the favourable optical and physical properties of quantum dots as biological probes over organic dyes and radioisotopes, their exploitation in medical applications has been hindered by toxicity concerns due to the presence of cadmium and other toxic elements. Creating safe, non-toxic, cadmium-free products is at the very heart of Nanoco. We take great pride in driving the innovation to push our CFQD® quantum dots beyond typical applications to groundbreaking implementations in life sciences.

Imad Naasani, CTO of Life Sciences, and his team have been making great strides in the development of safe and clinically acceptable quantum dot nanomaterials. The team focused on delineating the underlying challenges and gave full attention to the attributes of safety, consistency and performance.

Before joining the Nanoco team in 2008, Imad worked in quantum dots development and pharmacology for a company where the leadership was not convinced that omitting cadmium was necessary. It was a major factor in his move to Nanoco.

Since joining the Nanoco team, Imad has focused on formulating the quantum dots and making them biocompatible for medical applications. The efforts resulted in the development of a novel type of safe, biocompatible and efficient quantum dots. All safety tests so far have proven the benign nature of the new type of quantum dots. The team confirmed also that the new dots are stable in common biological buffers and can be conjugated to active ligands and proteins.

How can quantum dots play a role in life sciences? There’s more than one answer to that question. But Nanoco is presently focused on their use as an imaging agent for the surgical removal of cancerous cells as well as a tool for early diagnosis and detection of cancer. Imad outlined the full potential of this technology recently in a piece for IEEE“The Cancer Surgeon’s Latest Tool: Quantum Dots.”

In his tenure with Nanoco, Imad has experienced an incredible shift in innovation first-hand. “Seeing the work go from pure research to real-life applications has been very rewarding and motivating,” Imad says. “We have already used cell cultures and animal models to assess the capability of the dots for the detection of breast cancer and the surrounding lymphatic nodes. We clearly observed superior performance against currently used organic dyes.” This, in addition to growing relationships with commercial and research institutions at the cutting edge of the battle against cancer, shows the promise and potential value offered by this technology.

Imad believes that nanomaterials like quantum dots can play a huge role in an array of medical applications, calling it a “platform technology” and jokes that “every day is his proudest moment” at Nanoco. He believes Nanoco’s commitment to, “keep moving the science of quantum dots forward, making it better, and realizing its potential is truly gratifying.” Imad delights in the daily problem solving that Nanoco’s life sciences team accomplishes as they continue to push the technology further. Whether the specific application of cadmium free quantum dots be detecting disease, illuminating medical monitors, or other uses still to be developed, we’re excited by the nearly limitless potential of where quantum dots can take the life sciences industry.

You can see more from Imad on the incredible potential for CFQD® quantum dots in the future of medicine on IEEE Spectrum. And learn more about the innovative Nanoco team in our previous team spotlights.