Cancer of the prostate affects approximately 1 in 11 men. Current early screening for prostate cancer utilizes digital rectal examinations to detect anomalies in the prostate gland and blood test screenings for upregulated levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA). Many of these tests are invasive and can often be inconclusive as PSA levels may be heightened due to benign factors. Prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA), a well-characterized integral membrane protein, is expressed in virtually all prostate cancers and often correlates with cancer aggressiveness. Therefore, it may be used as an indicator of cancer growth and metastases. PSMA-specific antibodies have been identified and conjugated to fluorescent markers for cancer cell targeting; however, both the antibodies and markers possess significant limitations in their pharmaceutical and diagnostic value. Here we report the use of semiconductor nanocrystals bioconjugated to PSMA-specific aptamer recognition molecules for prostate carcinoma cell targeting. The
nanocrystal/aptamer bioconjugates are small biocompatible probes with the potential for color-tunability for multicolor imaging. Ongoing in vitro and in vivo research seeks to introduce these nanoparticle bioconjugates into medical diagnostics.