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Sci Rep. 2015 Oct 6;5:14759. doi: 10.1038/srep14759.

Molecular Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Tumor Response to Therapy.

Author information

Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
Departments of Radiology, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
Radiation Oncology, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
Department of Chemical Engineering, Department of Biological Engineering, and Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139, USA.


Personalized cancer medicine requires measurement of therapeutic efficacy as early as possible, which is optimally achieved by three-dimensional imaging given the heterogeneity of cancer. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can obtain images of both anatomy and cellular responses, if acquired with a molecular imaging contrast agent. The poor sensitivity of MRI has limited the development of activatable molecular MR contrast agents. To overcome this limitation of molecular MRI, a novel implementation of our caspase-3-sensitive nanoaggregation MRI (C-SNAM) contrast agent is reported. C-SNAM is triggered to self-assemble into nanoparticles in apoptotic tumor cells, and effectively amplifies molecular level changes through nanoaggregation, enhancing tissue retention and spin-lattice relaxivity. At one-tenth the current clinical dose of contrast agent, and following a single imaging session, C-SNAM MRI accurately measured the response of tumors to either metronomic chemotherapy or radiation therapy, where the degree of signal enhancement is prognostic of long-term therapeutic efficacy. Importantly, C-SNAM is inert to immune activation, permitting radiation therapy monitoring.

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