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Acc Chem Res. 2011 Oct 18;44(10):842-52. doi: 10.1021/ar200084x. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

Dextran-coated iron oxide nanoparticles: a versatile platform for targeted molecular imaging, molecular diagnostics, and therapy.

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  • 1Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Advances in our understanding of the genetic basis of disease susceptibility coupled with prominent successes for molecular targeted therapies have resulted in an emerging strategy of personalized medicine. This approach envisions risk stratification and therapeutic selection based on an individual's genetic makeup and physiologic state (the latter assessed through cellular or molecular phenotypes). Molecularly targeted nanoparticles can play a key role in this vision through noninvasive assessments of molecular processes and specific cell populations in vivo, sensitive molecular diagnostics, and targeted delivery of therapeutics. A superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle with a cross-linked dextran coating, or CLIO, is a powerful and illustrative nanoparticle platform for these applications. These structures and their derivatives support diagnostic imaging by magnetic resonance (MRI), optical, and positron emission tomography (PET) modalities and constitute a versatile platform for conjugation to targeting ligands. A variety of conjugation methods exist to couple the dextran surface to different functional groups; in addition, a robust bioorthogonal [4 + 2] cycloaddition reaction between 1,2,4,5-tetrazene (Tz) and trans-cyclooctene (TCO) can conjugate nanoparticles to targeting ligands or label pretargeted cells. The ready availability of conjugation methods has given rise to the synthesis of libraries of small molecule modified nanoparticles, which can then be screened for nanoparticles with specificity for a specific cell type. Since most nanoparticles display their targeting ligands in a multivalent manner, a detailed understanding of the kinetics and affinity of a nanoparticle's interaction with its target (as determined by surface plasmon resonance) can yield functionally important insights into nanoparticle design. In this Account, we review applications of the CLIO platform in several areas relevant to the mission of personalized medicine. We demonstrate rapid and highly sensitive molecular profiling of cancer markers ex vivo, as part of detailed, individualized molecular phenotyping. The CLIO platform also facilitates targeted magnetic resonance and combined modality imaging (such as MR/PET/fluorescence/CT) to enable multiplexed measurement of molecular phenotypes in vivo for early diagnosis and disease classification. Finally, the targeted delivery of a photodynamic therapy agent as part of a theranostic nanoparticle successfully increased local cell toxicity and minimized systemic side effects.

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