Biomedical applications of nanoflares: Targeted intracellular fluorescence probes

Karim Khanmohammadi Chenab, Reza Eivazzadeh-Keihan, Ali Maleki, Paria Pashazadeh-Panahi, Michael R. Hamblin, Ahad Mokhtarzadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Nanoflares are intracellular probes consisting of oligonucleotides immobilized on various nanoparticles that can recognize intracellular nucleic acids or other analytes, thus releasing a fluorescent reporter dye. Single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) complementary to mRNA for a target gene is constructed containing a 3′-thiol for binding to gold nanoparticles. The ssDNA “recognition sequence” is prehybridized to a shorter DNA complement containing a fluorescent dye that is quenched. The functionalized gold nanoparticles are easily taken up into cells. When the ssDNA recognizes its complementary target, the fluorescent dye is released inside the cells. Different intracellular targets can be detected by nanoflares, such as mRNAs coding for genes over-expressed in cancer (epithelial-mesenchymal transition, oncogenes, thymidine kinase, telomerase, etc.), intracellular levels of ATP, pH values and inorganic ions can also be measured. Advantages include high transfection efficiency, enzymatic stability, good optical properties, biocompatibility, high selectivity and specificity. Multiplexed assays and FRET-based systems have been designed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-358
Number of pages17
JournalNanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • ATP detection
  • Cancer cell detection
  • Inorganic ion detection
  • Nanoflares
  • Nucleic acid hybridization
  • Targeted intracellular fluorescence probes
  • mRNA detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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