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ACS Nano. 2010 Aug 24;4(8):4559-64. doi: 10.1021/nn100736c.

In vivo molecular photoacoustic tomography of melanomas targeted by bioconjugated gold nanocages.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri 63130, USA.


Early diagnosis, accurate staging, and image-guided resection of melanomas remain crucial clinical objectives for improving patient survival and treatment outcomes. Conventional techniques cannot meet this demand because of the low sensitivity, low specificity, poor spatial resolution, shallow penetration, and/or ionizing radiation. Here we overcome such limitations by combining high-resolution photoacoustic tomography (PAT) with extraordinarily optical absorbing gold nanocages (AuNCs). When bioconjugated with [Nle(4),D-Phe(7)]-alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, the AuNCs can serve as a novel contrast agent for in vivo molecular PAT of melanomas with both exquisite sensitivity and high specificity. The bioconjugated AuNCs enhanced contrast approximately 300% more than the control, PEGylated AuNCs. The in vivo PAT quantification of the amount of AuNCs accumulated in melanomas was further validated with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).

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