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Small. 2015 Dec 16;11(47):6347-57. doi: 10.1002/smll.201502202. Epub 2015 Oct 30.

CXCR-4 Targeted, Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) Emitting Nanoprobes for Enhanced Deep Tissue Imaging and Micrometastatic Cancer Lesion Detection.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rutgers University, 599 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA.
Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Rutgers University, 607 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08855, USA.
Molecular Imaging Center, 41 Gordon Road (Suite D), Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA.
Engineering Product Development, Singapore University of Technology and Design, 8 Somapah Road, 487372, Singapore.


Realizing the promise of precision medicine in cancer therapy depends on identifying and tracking cancerous growths to maximize treatment options and improve patient outcomes. This goal of early detection remains unfulfilled by current clinical imaging techniques that fail to detect lesions due to their small size and suborgan localization. With proper probes, optical imaging techniques can overcome this by identifying the molecular phenotype of tumors at both macroscopic and microscopic scales. In this study, the first use of nanophotonic short wave infrared technology is proposed to molecularly phenotype small lesions for more sensitive detection. Here, human serum albumin encapsulated rare-earth nanoparticles (ReANCs) with ligands for targeted lesion imaging are designed. AMD3100, an antagonist to CXCR4 (a classic marker of cancer metastasis) is adsorbed onto ReANCs to form functionalized ReANCs (fReANCs). fReANCs are able to preferentially accumulate in receptor positive lesions when injected intraperitoneally in a subcutaneous tumor model. fReANCs can also target subtissue microlesions at a maximum depth of 10.5 mm in a lung metastatic model of breast cancer. Internal lesions identified with fReANCs are 2.25 times smaller than those detected with ReANCs. Thus, an integrated nanoprobe detection platform is presented, which allows target-specific identification of subtissue cancerous lesions.


biomedical imaging; cancer targeting; nanomaterials; rare-earth probes; shortwave infrared imaging

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