Methods for determining metabolic properties of living cells through the uptake of semiconductor nanocrystals by cells. Generally the methods require a layer of neutral or hydrophilic semiconductor nanocrystals and a layer of cells seeded onto a culture surface and changes in the layer of semiconductor nanocrystals are detected. The observed changes made to the layer of semiconductor nanocrystals can be correlated to such metabolic properties as metastatic potential, cell motility or migration.
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This invention was made during work partially supported by U.S. Department of Defense Award No. DAMD17-98-1-8182, DOD Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Grant No. N00014-99-1-0728, and the National Institutes of Health under Grant No. 1 R01 RR-14891-01 through the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC03-76SF00098. The government has certain rights in this invention.