Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Synthesis of folic acid functionalized gold nanoclusters for targeting folate receptor-positive cells

Liu, Zhimin; Turyanska, Lyudmila; Zamberlan, Francesco; Pacifico, Salvatore; Bradshaw, Tracey D.; Moro, Fabrizio; Fay, Michael W.; Williams, Huw; Thomas, Neil R.


Zhimin Liu

Francesco Zamberlan

Salvatore Pacifico

Fabrizio Moro

Professor of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry


We report on the synthesis of water-soluble gold nanoclusters capped with polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based ligands and further functionalized with folic acid for specific cellular uptake. The dihydrolipoic acid-PEG-based ligands terminated with -OMe, -NH2 and -COOH functional groups are produced and used for surface passivation of Au nanoclusters (NCs) with diameters ≤2 nm. The produced sub-2 nm Au NCs possess long-shelf life and are stabile in physiologically relevant environments (temperature and pH), are paramagnetic and biocompatible. The paramagnetism of Au NCs in solution is also reported. The functional groups on the capping ligands are used for direct conjugation of targeting molecules onto Au NCs without the need for post synthesis modification. Folic acid (FA) is attached via an amide group and effectively target cells expressing the folate receptor. The combination of targeting ability, biocompatibility and paramagnetism in FA-functionalized Au NCs is of relevance for their exploitation in nanomedicine for targeted imaging.


Liu, Z., Turyanska, L., Zamberlan, F., Pacifico, S., Bradshaw, T. D., Moro, F., …Thomas, N. R. (2019). Synthesis of folic acid functionalized gold nanoclusters for targeting folate receptor-positive cells. Nanotechnology, 30(50),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 2, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 11, 2019
Publication Date Oct 3, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 12, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 12, 2020
Journal Nanotechnology
Print ISSN 0957-4484
Electronic ISSN 1361-6528
Publisher IOP Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 50
Article Number 505102
Keywords Gold nanocluster, Water soluble, Paramagnetic, Folic acid, Targeting folate receptor
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations