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

Margot Zevon, Vidya Ganapathy, Harini Kantamneni, Marco Mingozzi, Paul Kim, Derek Adler, Yang Sheng, Mei Chee Tan, Mark Pierce, Richard E. Riman, Charles M. Roth, Prabhas V. Moghe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


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. Optical imaging using targeted rare-earth-doped albumin nanocomposites provides a method for subsurface detection of microscale breast cancer metastasis. Particles functionalized to common metastatic receptors molecularly discriminate between cellular populations, which enables minimally invasive determination of tumor phenotype. Improved particle localization to tumor sites allows for detection of microscale tumors in vivo ≈1 cm from the imaging surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6347-6357
Number of pages11
Issue number47
StatePublished - Dec 16 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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


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