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.