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Cornell dots characterized, ready for human trials

BioPhotonics
Sep 2011
Compiled by BioPhotonics staff

ITHACA, N.Y. – The bright nanoparticles known as Cornell dots could light up cancer cells in PET optical imaging, and the technology, recently approved as an “investigational new drug” by the FDA, is headed toward clinical trials in humans.

For the first time, scientists have reported an advanced comprehensive characterization of Cornell dots. The report, published in the June 13 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, was a collaborative effort between Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Cornell University and Hybrid Silica Technologies, a Cornell business startup.

Cornell dots are silica spheres less than 8 nm in diameter that enclose several dye molecules. The silica shell is chemically inert and small enough to pass through the body. For clinical applications, the dots are coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) so that the body does not recognize them as foreign objects.

To make the dots stick to tumor cells, organic molecules that bind to tumor surfaces or even specific locations within the tumors can be attached to the PEG shell. When exposed to near-infrared light, the dots fluoresce much brighter than the dye, serving as a beacon to identify the target cells. The researchers said that, during surgical treatment, the technology enables visualization of invasive or metastatic spread to lymph nodes and distant organs, and can show the extent of treatment response.

Nodal mapping is now being pursued under the award of a BioAccelerate NYC Prize from the Partnership for New York City and the New York City Economic Development Corp., which is expected to lead to another clinical trial in humans.

The collaboration is in the process of forming a new commercial entity in New York that will help transition the research into commercial products that will benefit cancer patient care.


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