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Are Quantum Dots the Cancer-Finding Pepto-Bismol of the Future?

Researchers say quantum dots, ultra-tiny chunks of superconducting crystal, might help doctors identify tumors or problem microbes in your body early on. The dots’ small size would allow them to cling to protein or enter cells, thus becoming a useful medical imaging tool.

There are problems with using the tiny crystals; quantum dots can break open and release toxins, especially when exposed to UV light. But a new study published in Nature Nanotechnology says tests on primates have been successful, and proved the dots safe as long as they don’t break.

Before real use begins, scientists will need to further study how quantum dots travel through and interact with major body organs. Granted, swallowing quantum dots sounds a bit scary—but hey, it’s better than injecting us with Dennis Quaid, right?

Video produced by Jim Festante.