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Analytical Chemistry

Nanoparticles For Imaging Six Ways To Sunday

Porphyrin-coated core-shell nanoparticles could push multimodal imaging to new level

by Matt Davenport
February 2, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 5

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Credit: Adv. Mater.
Coating functional cores with porphyrin phospholipids results in nanoparticles that respond to six imaging techniques.These core-shell nanoparticles have an average diameter of about 75 nm.
09305-scicon-nanoparticles.jpg
Credit: Adv. Mater.
Coating functional cores with porphyrin phospholipids results in nanoparticles that respond to six imaging techniques.These core-shell nanoparticles have an average diameter of about 75 nm.

Doctors often face an unpleasant optimization problem: How do they minimize the number of needlesticks and injections while maximizing the benefit to a patient’s health? Engineered nanoparticles could simplify that calculus for medical diagnostics. An international research team led by Jonathan F. Lovell of the University at Buffalo, SUNY, has developed particles that can be delivered with a single injection and respond to at least six complementary imaging modes (Adv. Mater. 2015, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201404739). The team started with core-shell nanoparticles that absorb multiple photons of long-wavelength light and emit shorter wavelengths. This upconversion luminescence can be used for imaging with infrared light, but the particles are also rich in metals that interact with the X-rays used in CT scans. The researchers then coated the particles with porphyrin-conjugated phospholipids they developed to add fluorescent and photoacoustic techniques to the imaging toolbox. They also labeled the coating with 64Cu for PET scans and Cerenkov luminescence imaging. Lovell says the next step is demonstrating the diagnostic power of these particles in early cancer detection, for instance. But he also hopes such studies will inspire instrument makers to develop single “hyperimaging” tools to capitalize on all of a nanoparticle’s capabilities.

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