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Quantum dots deliver vitamin D to tumors for breast cancer treatment

Posted on: February 6, 2013   by  Vitamin D Council


Scientists have recently uncovered an experimental approach to fighting inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a very rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.

The new approach uses the active form of vitamin D3, calcitriol, which is delivered by quantum dots to IBC tumors in mice. Quantum dots are engineered, miniscule delivery vehicles which can maneuver directly to a tumor site.

Past epidemiological research show that women with low vitamin D levels at the time of breast cancer diagnosis are 94% more likely to experience cancer that spreads to other parts of their body, compared to women with adequate vitamin D status.

The latest discovery shows quantum dots can quickly transport high concentrations of calcitriol to targeted tumor locations, as well as through the lymph system where the cancer spreads.

IBC is especially aggressive and difficult to treat. It has a five year survival rate of 40% compared to 87% for all other breast cancers. A large factor which makes it difficult to catch and fully treat is its aggressive growth pattern. Past treatment options such as a combination of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery have not significantly improved IBC survival rates.

“New IBC therapies are urgently needed, which is why the goal of my work is to find a successful treatment for inflammatory breast cancer, especially one with fewer side effects,” author Anja Nohe concludes.


Nohe A, et al. Using calcitriol conjugated quantum dots to target inflammatory breast cancer tumors and metastasis in vivo. Presented at the 57th Annual Biophysical Society Meeting.

Weiss ER. Quantum dots deliver vitamin D to tumors for possible inflammatory breast cancer treatment. Eurek Alert. Feb 2013.

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