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Mol Imaging. 2012 Feb;11(1):33-46.

Rapid visualization of human tumor xenografts through optical imaging with a near-infrared fluorescent anti-epidermal growth factor receptor nanobody.

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Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.


Given that overexpression of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is found in many types of human epithelial cancers, noninvasive molecular imaging of this receptor is of great interest. A number of studies have employed monoclonal antibodies as probes; however, their characteristic long half-life in the bloodstream has encouraged the development of smaller probes. In this study, an anti-EGFR nanobody-based probe was developed and tested in comparison with cetuximab for application in optical molecular imaging. To this aim, the anti-EGFR nanobody 7D12 and cetuximab were conjugated to the near-infrared fluorophore IRDye800CW. 7D12-IR allowed the visualization of tumors as early as 30 minutes postinjection, whereas with cetuximab-IR, no signal above background was observed at the tumor site. Quantification of the IR-conjugated proteins in the tumors revealed ≈ 17% of injected dose per gram 2 hours after injection of 7D12-IR, which was significantly higher than the tumor uptake obtained 24 hours after injection of cetuximab-IR. This difference is associated with the superior penetration and distribution of 7D12-IR within the tumor. These results demonstrate that this anti-EGFR nanobody conjugated to the NIR fluorophore has excellent properties for rapid preclinical optical imaging, which holds promise for its future use as a complementary diagnostic tool in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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