Targeted Nanoparticle Imaging Probes for Contrast-Enhanced CT

Funding: NSF, Kelly Cares Foundation, Walther Cancer Foundation
Lab Personnel: Dr. Prakash Nallathamby, Tracie L. McGinnity, Tyler E. Curtis, Tyler A. Finamore
Collaborators: Tracy Vargo-Gogola (IUMS-SB), Karen Cowden Dahl (IUMS-SB), Clodia Osipo (LUMC, Chicago), Matthias Epple (Duisburg-Essen, Germany)

Computed tomography is the most widely used clinical diagnostic imaging modality but is limited by sensitivity and soft tissue contrast. Therefore, my lab is striving to enable molecular imaging capabilities with CT using targeted nanoparticle contrast agents. This contribution has quickly become the main theme in my lab over the last 6 years. We developed and investigated bisphosphonate functionalized gold nanoparticles (BP-Au NPs) for achieving targeted delivery to bone and breast microcalcifications, which are the most common abnormality associated with breast cancer. We also developed new murine models which allowed us to demonstrate the ability of BP-Au NPs to enhance sensitivity and specificity for the detection of breast microcalcifications by X-ray imaging in both normal and “dense” mammary tissue. Importantly, the accuracy of mammography is known to be decreased by up to three-fold among premenopausal women with elevated breast tissue density. Therefore, our results suggest that a targeted nanoparticle contrast agent could be used to improve screening within this high risk subpopulation.

We are also investigating immunotargeted nanoparticles for detection of specific new nanoparticle contrast agents (e.g. HfO2) for leveraging the capabilities of spectral (multienergy) computed tomography.