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Using nanoparticles designed specifically to produce a bright Raman spectroscopic signal, a team of investigators at the Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence Focused on Therapy Response (Stanford University Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence [CCNE]) has shown that it can simultaneously track as many as 10 different optical tags in a living animal. This work, the first to use surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) for multiplexed imaging in a living animal, was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The results point to the potential of Raman spectroscopy for multiplexed imaging of cancer biomarkers.
Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator of the Stanford CCNE, led the team of investigators that used a set of 10 different silica-coated gold nanoparticles to create the multiplexed in vivo imaging technique. Each of the SERS nanotags generates a unique Raman spectrum when irradiated with near-infrared light. Spectral analysis software can deconvolute, or sort out, the light that each nanotag emits as part of a mixture, yielding the concentration of each individual nanotag.
In one set of experiments, the investigators injected the nanotags individually into a mouse and demonstrated that they could create a map of each nanotag's location in the body. Using the five brightest nanotags, the researchers then attempted multiplexed analysis, and, indeed, the processing software was able to quantify the concentrations of individual nanotags as they accumulated in the liver.
The investigators are now optimizing their Raman microscope to maximize the depth within the body at which they can accurately measure the Raman signal from their nanotags. The researchers note that the chemical nature of the nanotags should enable them to attach specific binding agents for detecting cancer biomarkers as they are discovered.
About National Cancer Institute
To help meet the goal of reducing the burden of cancer, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, is engaged in efforts to harness the power of nanotechnology to radically change the way we diagnose, treat and prevent cancer.
The NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer is a comprehensive, systematized initiative encompassing the public and private sectors, designed to accelerate the application of the best capabilities of nanotechnology to cancer.
Currently, scientists are limited in their ability to turn promising molecular discoveries into benefits for cancer patients. Nanotechnology can provide the technical power and tools that will enable those developing new diagnostics, therapeutics, and preventives to keep pace with today’s explosion in knowledge.
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