Smart Nanotool May Give Cancer Imaging a Boost
Scientists at Johns Hopkins University created smart, infinitesimal probes for targeted tumor imaging.
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Inspired by the process cells use to assemble proteins, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) researchers developed Raman-active self-assembling bioorthogonal enzyme recognition (nanoSABER) probes for targeted tumor imaging. The new technology can significantly facilitate cancer imaging, enabling early diagnosis and improving treatment outcomes.
"This could be a game changer for cancer treatment," said Ishan Barman, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the Whiting School, who led the study recently published in Advanced Science together with Jeff W. Bulte, professor of radiology and radiological science at the School of Medicine who is also affiliated with JHU's Institute for NanoBioTechnology.
Currently, tissue biopsies are the gold standard for detecting most cancers. However, they can be inaccurate and sometimes disregard marginal parts of tumors. The innovative technology created by the JHU team allows clinicians to visualize cancerous activity across entire tumors, providing insights into their possible aggressiveness.
Enzymes, especially legumain, play a leading role in the development and progression of cancer. The new tool assembles itself in the presence of these cancer-related enzymes and emits a signal that can then be captured by Raman spectroscopy. This allows the probes to identify cancer cells accurately.
The JHU researchers underline that their method could also allow clinicians to monitor the accumulation of cancer drugs in tumors more accurately during treatment, indicating its effectiveness.
"The probes' ability to offer a clear look at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels provides a comprehensive perspective," said lead author Swati Tanwar. "It is imperative to understand what is really happening at the tumor margins to ensure complete cancer removal and minimize the chances of recurrence."
Reference: Tanwar S, Ghaemi B, Raj P, et al. A smart intracellular self-assembling bioorthogonal Raman active nanoprobe for targeted tumor imaging. Advanced Science. 2023:2304164. doi: 10.1002/advs.202304164
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