Connect with us


In Biopharma, Tiny Carbon Dots Mean Big Opportunities

Crossing the blood-brain barrier is a familiar challenge in therapeutic applications. And it is increasingly recognized as a challenge for imaging applications,…



Crossing the blood-brain barrier is a familiar challenge in therapeutic applications. And it is increasingly recognized as a challenge for imaging applications, too. In the not-too-distant future, therapeutic and imaging applications may be better able to overcome this challenge—provided new, enabling technologies perform as hoped. One such technology is carbon nanoparticle technology.

Carbon nanoparticles, which have a core-shell structure and a diameter of less than 10 nm, exhibit several useful properties. They include ultra-small size, tunable photoluminescence, various surface functionalities, high water dispersibility, and biocompatibility. By exploiting these properties, a small company named C-Dots Nanotech is working to improve drug delivery and bioimaging.

Neuron targeting for imaging

“We have specific types of carbon nanoparticles, called C-Dots, that target neurons,” says Elif S. Seven, PhD, senior scientist and production manager, C-Dots Nanotec. “The C-Dots cross the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in the neurons,” enabling imaging applications. The alternative is to use dyes; however, relatively few dyes are suitable for in vivo or in vitro imaging.

Seven also suggests how C-Dots may facilitate drug delivery. “We can deliver small molecules to neurons in a nonviral way,” she tells GEN. According to Seven, the immune response stimulated by the technique is minimal or undetectable.

C-Dots may prove especially useful in the delivery of cancer drugs. “We can customize the drug delivery platform by attaching targeting ligands to the C-Dots along with chemotherapy drugs (singly or in combination) for precise targeting,” Seven explains. “We have shown that when two different chemotherapy drugs are conjugated to C-Dots along with transferrin, there is a synergistic anticancer effect on glioblastoma cell lines.” C-Dots Nanotec has been working in-house with glioblastomas and neuroblastomas, and it has identified the types of C-Dots that work best for certain scenarios. The company also works with external researchers to develop carbon dots for other cancers.

Seven notes that in a recent study for neuroblastoma, a specific type of C-Dot was identified that showed a “significant, intrinsic anticancer property while being minimally toxic to healthy cell lines.” When C-Dots Nanotec tested the C-Dots against seven or eight cancer cell lines, the company found that the C-Dots killed one cell line that had a specific mutation. Additional studies to explore that capability are being planned.

Nanodots aren’t quantum dots

While C-Dots Nanotec’s technology looks promising, the company’s work is still in the preclinical stage. That’s par for the industry. Despite being discovered some two decades ago as a product of carbon nanotube synthesis, carbon nanodots generally are underrecognized in the biopharmaceutical world.

Carbon nanodots developed by C-Dots Nanotec are highly photoluminescent. In addition, they can be tuned for blue, red, green, and yellow photoluminescence, as well for intermediate colors. In these images, water dispersions of the company’s carbon nanodots are shown under room light (left) and under ultraviolet light (right).

“Carbon nanodots are often confused with quantum dots,” Seven points out. “Carbon nanodots are spherical nanoparticles with a diameter of less than 10 nanometers. Even in the nanoparticle world, that’s very small. And unlike quantum dots, carbon nanodots don’t have toxic metals such as cadmium.”

Carbon nanodots exhibit stability and low toxicity. Also, as mentioned earlier, they are both highly biocompatible and highly photoluminescent. They can be tuned for blue, red, green, or yellow photoluminescence—or “anything in between,” Seven remarks. Typically, citric acid and urea are the precursors, and adding nitrogen enhances the carbon nanodots’ luminescence.

“There are two general types of synthesis: top-down and bottom-up,” Seven continues. “We can use small molecules to build the dots from the bottom-up. For top-down, we use larger carbon-based particles to cut down to make the dots.”

She also explains how C-Dots can be given different targeting properties that can enhance drug delivery: “Especially for the small molecules, the composition of the surface functional groups may be different based on their precursors. For example, C-Dots made from folic acid target the folic acid receptor, and C-Dots made from glucose enter cells using glucose transporter proteins. So, they sometimes take on the properties of their precursors. That’s why they can target specific cells.”

High levels of biocompatibility and the ability of these carbon dots to go places other modalities cannot reach easily are expanding their potential applications. Besides having the potential to target brain cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, C-Dots may be able to target pancreatic cancer and dermatology conditions. And C-Dots Nanotec may pursue additional applications by participating in collaborations.

C-Dots Nanotec is one of only a few companies developing these carbon nanodots. This observation, Seven reports, has been confirmed by C-Dots Nanotec’s competitive research. She adds that some competitors’ products more closely resemble dyes than carbon dots, based upon spectra and other product characteristics.

She declares that C-Dots Nanotec can offer high purity levels and “guarantee batch-to-batch reproducibility.” Accordingly, researchers can run experiments with one batch of C-Dots and then reproduce their results by running experiments with C-Dots from other batches.

Focusing on carbon nanodots

C-Dots Nanotec was founded in 2019 as a sister company to C-Dots, which was founded in 2017. Both companies were co-founded by Roger M. LeBlanc, PhD, a professor of chemistry at the University of Miami. He has developed multiple companies around carbon nanodots, including those for neuro-oncology and neurodegenerative diseases, and others for dermatology, fuel additives, and R&D. The dots also have agricultural applications.

“When we started C-Dots Nanotec a few years ago, there were not many companies offering carbon dots, so we are probably first in the market,” Seven says. “We really believe carbon dots are unique.”

Now, C-Dots Nanotec is working with academic partners at the University of Florida, the University of Miami, and the University of Iowa, and it is also interested in working with corporate partners.

Incorporating carbon nanodots into a research program is as straightforward as chemically conjugating them with a program’s small-molecule drugs and/or peptides and then measuring their effects on delivery efficiency. “Carbon dots are like catalysts,” Seven says. “As additives, they have been shown to increase efficiency.”

Seven looks forward to pursuing applications in two exciting fields: “One, of course, is neurology, with neurodegenerative diseases and oncology as part of that. The second is jet fuel.” Applications that improve fuel efficiency could have an impact and generate revenue relatively quickly.

Thriving in a new niche

The carbon nanodot industry is still in its infancy. “If you’re not in the field,” Seven admits, “there’s a high chance you have never heard of carbon nanodots.” They may be overlooked by researchers in need of delivery technologies. Indeed, researchers typically opt for more familiar technologies, such as those based on polymers or liposomes.

Seven recognizes that creating a new market will be challenging. Nonetheless, she emphasizes that “more suppliers and more companies are adding carbon dots to their product lines.”

Being located in Florida, away from the conventional biopharmaceutical hubs, is an additional challenge. The location issue was evident when C-Dots Nanotec participated in a startup workshop at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The vibe was so high and energetic,” Seven recalls. “We did a lot [with researchers], but we may have done a lot more if we had been a Boston-based company.” Worse, travel has been limited by the pandemic, she says. This year, C-Dots Nanotec is renewing its efforts to form collaborations that may help the company transition from laboratory work to clinical trials.

The post In Biopharma, Tiny Carbon Dots Mean Big Opportunities appeared first on GEN - Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

Read More

Continue Reading


February Employment Situation

By Paul Gomme and Peter Rupert The establishment data from the BLS showed a 275,000 increase in payroll employment for February, outpacing the 230,000…



By Paul Gomme and Peter Rupert

The establishment data from the BLS showed a 275,000 increase in payroll employment for February, outpacing the 230,000 average over the previous 12 months. The payroll data for January and December were revised down by a total of 167,000. The private sector added 223,000 new jobs, the largest gain since May of last year.

Temporary help services employment continues a steep decline after a sharp post-pandemic rise.

Average hours of work increased from 34.2 to 34.3. The increase, along with the 223,000 private employment increase led to a hefty increase in total hours of 5.6% at an annualized rate, also the largest increase since May of last year.

The establishment report, once again, beat “expectations;” the WSJ survey of economists was 198,000. Other than the downward revisions, mentioned above, another bit of negative news was a smallish increase in wage growth, from $34.52 to $34.57.

The household survey shows that the labor force increased 150,000, a drop in employment of 184,000 and an increase in the number of unemployed persons of 334,000. The labor force participation rate held steady at 62.5, the employment to population ratio decreased from 60.2 to 60.1 and the unemployment rate increased from 3.66 to 3.86. Remember that the unemployment rate is the number of unemployed relative to the labor force (the number employed plus the number unemployed). Consequently, the unemployment rate can go up if the number of unemployed rises holding fixed the labor force, or if the labor force shrinks holding the number unemployed unchanged. An increase in the unemployment rate is not necessarily a bad thing: it may reflect a strong labor market drawing “marginally attached” individuals from outside the labor force. Indeed, there was a 96,000 decline in those workers.

Earlier in the week, the BLS announced JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) data for January. There isn’t much to report here as the job openings changed little at 8.9 million, the number of hires and total separations were little changed at 5.7 million and 5.3 million, respectively.

As has been the case for the last couple of years, the number of job openings remains higher than the number of unemployed persons.

Also earlier in the week the BLS announced that productivity increased 3.2% in the 4th quarter with output rising 3.5% and hours of work rising 0.3%.

The bottom line is that the labor market continues its surprisingly (to some) strong performance, once again proving stronger than many had expected. This strength makes it difficult to justify any interest rate cuts soon, particularly given the recent inflation spike.

Read More

Continue Reading


Mortgage rates fall as labor market normalizes

Jobless claims show an expanding economy. We will only be in a recession once jobless claims exceed 323,000 on a four-week moving average.



Everyone was waiting to see if this week’s jobs report would send mortgage rates higher, which is what happened last month. Instead, the 10-year yield had a muted response after the headline number beat estimates, but we have negative job revisions from previous months. The Federal Reserve’s fear of wage growth spiraling out of control hasn’t materialized for over two years now and the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9%. For now, we can say the labor market isn’t tight anymore, but it’s also not breaking.

The key labor data line in this expansion is the weekly jobless claims report. Jobless claims show an expanding economy that has not lost jobs yet. We will only be in a recession once jobless claims exceed 323,000 on a four-week moving average.

From the Fed: In the week ended March 2, initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits were flat, at 217,000. The four-week moving average declined slightly by 750, to 212,250

Below is an explanation of how we got here with the labor market, which all started during COVID-19.

1. I wrote the COVID-19 recovery model on April 7, 2020, and retired it on Dec. 9, 2020. By that time, the upfront recovery phase was done, and I needed to model out when we would get the jobs lost back.

2. Early in the labor market recovery, when we saw weaker job reports, I doubled and tripled down on my assertion that job openings would get to 10 million in this recovery. Job openings rose as high as to 12 million and are currently over 9 million. Even with the massive miss on a job report in May 2021, I didn’t waver.

Currently, the jobs openings, quit percentage and hires data are below pre-COVID-19 levels, which means the labor market isn’t as tight as it once was, and this is why the employment cost index has been slowing data to move along the quits percentage.  


3. I wrote that we should get back all the jobs lost to COVID-19 by September of 2022. At the time this would be a speedy labor market recovery, and it happened on schedule, too

Total employment data

4. This is the key one for right now: If COVID-19 hadn’t happened, we would have between 157 million and 159 million jobs today, which would have been in line with the job growth rate in February 2020. Today, we are at 157,808,000. This is important because job growth should be cooling down now. We are more in line with where the labor market should be when averaging 140K-165K monthly. So for now, the fact that we aren’t trending between 140K-165K means we still have a bit more recovery kick left before we get down to those levels. 

From BLS: Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 275,000 in February, and the unemployment rate increased to 3.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in health care, in government, in food services and drinking places, in social assistance, and in transportation and warehousing.

Here are the jobs that were created and lost in the previous month:


In this jobs report, the unemployment rate for education levels looks like this:

  • Less than a high school diploma: 6.1%
  • High school graduate and no college: 4.2%
  • Some college or associate degree: 3.1%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 2.2%

Today’s report has continued the trend of the labor data beating my expectations, only because I am looking for the jobs data to slow down to a level of 140K-165K, which hasn’t happened yet. I wouldn’t categorize the labor market as being tight anymore because of the quits ratio and the hires data in the job openings report. This also shows itself in the employment cost index as well. These are key data lines for the Fed and the reason we are going to see three rate cuts this year.

Read More

Continue Reading


Inside The Most Ridiculous Jobs Report In History: Record 1.2 Million Immigrant Jobs Added In One Month

Inside The Most Ridiculous Jobs Report In History: Record 1.2 Million Immigrant Jobs Added In One Month

Last month we though that the January…



Inside The Most Ridiculous Jobs Report In History: Record 1.2 Million Immigrant Jobs Added In One Month

Last month we though that the January jobs report was the "most ridiculous in recent history" but, boy, were we wrong because this morning the Biden department of goalseeked propaganda (aka BLS) published the February jobs report, and holy crap was that something else. Even Goebbels would blush. 

What happened? Let's take a closer look.

On the surface, it was (almost) another blockbuster jobs report, certainly one which nobody expected, or rather just one bank out of 76 expected. Starting at the top, the BLS reported that in February the US unexpectedly added 275K jobs, with just one research analyst (from Dai-Ichi Research) expecting a higher number.

Some context: after last month's record 4-sigma beat, today's print was "only" 3 sigma higher than estimates. Needless to say, two multiple sigma beats in a row used to only happen in the USSR... and now in the US, apparently.

Before we go any further, a quick note on what last month we said was "the most ridiculous jobs report in recent history": it appears the BLS read our comments and decided to stop beclowing itself. It did that by slashing last month's ridiculous print by over a third, and revising what was originally reported as a massive 353K beat to just 229K,  a 124K revision, which was the biggest one-month negative revision in two years!

Of course, that does not mean that this month's jobs print won't be revised lower: it will be, and not just that month but every other month until the November election because that's the only tool left in the Biden admin's box: pretend the economic and jobs are strong, then revise them sharply lower the next month, something we pointed out first last summer and which has not failed to disappoint once.

To be fair, not every aspect of the jobs report was stellar (after all, the BLS had to give it some vague credibility). Take the unemployment rate, after flatlining between 3.4% and 3.8% for two years - and thus denying expectations from Sahm's Rule that a recession may have already started - in February the unemployment rate unexpectedly jumped to 3.9%, the highest since February 2022 (with Black unemployment spiking by 0.3% to 5.6%, an indicator which the Biden admin will quickly slam as widespread economic racism or something).

And then there were average hourly earnings, which after surging 0.6% MoM in January (since revised to 0.5%) and spooking markets that wage growth is so hot, the Fed will have no choice but to delay cuts, in February the number tumbled to just 0.1%, the lowest in two years...

... for one simple reason: last month's average wage surge had nothing to do with actual wages, and everything to do with the BLS estimate of hours worked (which is the denominator in the average wage calculation) which last month tumbled to just 34.1 (we were led to believe) the lowest since the covid pandemic...

... but has since been revised higher while the February print rose even more, to 34.3, hence why the latest average wage data was once again a product not of wages going up, but of how long Americans worked in any weekly period, in this case higher from 34.1 to 34.3, an increase which has a major impact on the average calculation.

While the above data points were examples of some latent weakness in the latest report, perhaps meant to give it a sheen of veracity, it was everything else in the report that was a problem starting with the BLS's latest choice of seasonal adjustments (after last month's wholesale revision), which have gone from merely laughable to full clownshow, as the following comparison between the monthly change in BLS and ADP payrolls shows. The trend is clear: the Biden admin numbers are now clearly rising even as the impartial ADP (which directly logs employment numbers at the company level and is far more accurate), shows an accelerating slowdown.

But it's more than just the Biden admin hanging its "success" on seasonal adjustments: when one digs deeper inside the jobs report, all sorts of ugly things emerge... such as the growing unprecedented divergence between the Establishment (payrolls) survey and much more accurate Household (actual employment) survey. To wit, while in January the BLS claims 275K payrolls were added, the Household survey found that the number of actually employed workers dropped for the third straight month (and 4 in the past 5), this time by 184K (from 161.152K to 160.968K).

This means that while the Payrolls series hits new all time highs every month since December 2020 (when according to the BLS the US had its last month of payrolls losses), the level of Employment has not budged in the past year. Worse, as shown in the chart below, such a gaping divergence has opened between the two series in the past 4 years, that the number of Employed workers would need to soar by 9 million (!) to catch up to what Payrolls claims is the employment situation.

There's more: shifting from a quantitative to a qualitative assessment, reveals just how ugly the composition of "new jobs" has been. Consider this: the BLS reports that in February 2024, the US had 132.9 million full-time jobs and 27.9 million part-time jobs. Well, that's great... until you look back one year and find that in February 2023 the US had 133.2 million full-time jobs, or more than it does one year later! And yes, all the job growth since then has been in part-time jobs, which have increased by 921K since February 2023 (from 27.020 million to 27.941 million).

Here is a summary of the labor composition in the past year: all the new jobs have been part-time jobs!

But wait there's even more, because now that the primary season is over and we enter the heart of election season and political talking points will be thrown around left and right, especially in the context of the immigration crisis created intentionally by the Biden administration which is hoping to import millions of new Democratic voters (maybe the US can hold the presidential election in Honduras or Guatemala, after all it is their citizens that will be illegally casting the key votes in November), what we find is that in February, the number of native-born workers tumbled again, sliding by a massive 560K to just 129.807 million. Add to this the December data, and we get a near-record 2.4 million plunge in native-born workers in just the past 3 months (only the covid crash was worse)!

The offset? A record 1.2 million foreign-born (read immigrants, both legal and illegal but mostly illegal) workers added in February!

Said otherwise, not only has all job creation in the past 6 years has been exclusively for foreign-born workers...

Source: St Louis Fed FRED Native Born and Foreign Born

... but there has been zero job-creation for native born workers since June 2018!

This is a huge issue - especially at a time of an illegal alien flood at the southwest border...

... and is about to become a huge political scandal, because once the inevitable recession finally hits, there will be millions of furious unemployed Americans demanding a more accurate explanation for what happened - i.e., the illegal immigration floodgates that were opened by the Biden admin.

Which is also why Biden's handlers will do everything in their power to insure there is no official recession before November... and why after the election is over, all economic hell will finally break loose. Until then, however, expect the jobs numbers to get even more ridiculous.

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/08/2024 - 13:30

Read More

Continue Reading