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1.  High Contrast In vitro and In vivo Photoluminescence Bioimaging Using Near Infrared to Near Infrared Up-Conversion in Tm3+ and Yb3+ Doped Fluoride Nanophosphors 
Nano letters  2008;8(11):3834-3838.
A new approach for photoluminescence imaging in vitro and in vivo has been shown, utilizing near infrared to near infrared (NIR-to-NIR) up-conversion in nanophosphors. This NIR-to-NIR up-conversion process provides deeper light penetration into biological specimen and results in high contrast optical imaging due to absence of an autofluorescence background and decreased light scattering. Aqueous dispersible fluoride (NaYF4) nanocrystals (20–30 nm size) co-doped with the rare earth ions, Tm3+ and Yb3+, were synthesized and characterized by TEM, XRD and photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy. In vitro cellular uptake was shown by the PL microscopy visualizing the characteristic emission of Tm3+ at ~ 800 nm excited with 975 nm. No apparent cytotoxicity was observed. Subsequent animal imaging studies were performed using Balb-c mice injected intravenously with up-converting nanophosphors, demonstrating the high contrast PL imaging in vivo.
doi:10.1021/nl802223f
PMCID: PMC3523349  PMID: 18928324
Nanophosphors; Energy Up-conversion; Near Infrared In vitro and In vivo imaging
2.  A New Method for Delivering a Hydrophobic Drug for Photodynamic Therapy Using Pure Nanocrystal Form of the Drug 
Molecular pharmaceutics  2007;4(2):289-297.
A carrier free method for delivery of a hydrophobic drug in its pure form, using nanocrystals (nano sized crystals) is proposed. To demonstrate this technique, nanocrystals of a hydrophobic photosensitizing anticancer drug 2-devinyl-2-(1-hexyloxyethyl)pyropheophorbide (HPPH), have been synthesized using re-precipitation method. The resulting drug nanocrystals were monodispersed and stable in aqueous dispersion, without the necessity of an additional stabilizer (surfactant). As shown by confocal microscopy, these pure drug nanocrystals were taken-up by the cancer cells with high avidity. Though the fluorescence and photodynamic activity of the drug were substantially quenched in the form of nanocrystals in aqueous suspension, both these characteristics were recovered under in vitro and in vivo conditions. This recovery of drug activity and fluorescence is possibly due to the interaction of nanocrystals with serum albumin, resulting in conversion of the drug nanocrystals into the molecular form. This was confirmed by demonstrating similar recovery in presence of Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) or Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA). Under similar treatment conditions, the HPPH in nanocrystal form or in 1% Tween 80/water formulation showed comparable in vitro and in vivo efficacy.
doi:10.1021/mp060117f
PMCID: PMC2667689  PMID: 17266331
nanocrystals; re-precipitation method; photosensitizers; photodynamic therapy; singlet oxygen; drug delivery
3.  (α-NaYbF4:Tm3+)/CaF2 Core/Shell Nanoparticles with Efficient Near-Infrared to Near-Infrared Upconversion for High-Contrast Deep Tissue Bioimaging 
ACS nano  2012;6(9):8280-8287.
We describe the development of novel and biocompatible core/shell (α-NaYbF4:Tm3+)/CaF2 nanoparticles which exhibit highly efficient NIRin-NIRout upconversion (UC) for high contrast and deep bioimaging. When excited at ~980 nm, these nanoparticles emit photoluminescence (PL) peaked at ~800 nm. The quantum yield of this UC PL under low power density excitation (~0.3 W/cm2) is 0.6±0.1%. This high UC PL efficiency is realized by suppressing surface quenching effects via hetero-epitaxial growth of a biocompatible CaF2 shell which results in a 35-fold increase in the intensity of UC PL from the core. Small animal whole-body UC PL imaging with exceptional contrast (signal-to-background ratio of 310) is shown using BALB/c mice intravenously injected with aqueously dispersed nanoparticles (700 pmol/kg). High-contrast UC PL imaging of deep tissues is also demonstrated, using a nanoparticle-loaded synthetic fibrous mesh wrapped around rat femoral bone, and a cuvette with nanoparticle aqueous dispersion - covered with a 3.2-cm thick animal tissue (pork).
doi:10.1021/nn302972r
PMCID: PMC3523358  PMID: 22928629
near infrared; photoluminescence bioimaging; upconversion nanocrystals; lanthanide; core/shell
4.  Increasing TNF Levels Solely in the Rat Hippocampus Produces Persistent Pain-like Symptoms 
Pain  2012;153(9):1871-1882.
The manifestation of chronic, neuropathic pain includes elevated levels of the cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF). Previously, we have shown that the hippocampus, an area of the brain most notable for its role in learning and memory formation, plays a fundamental role in pain sensation. Using an animal model of peripheral neuropathic pain, we have demonstrated that intracerebroventricular (icv) infusion of a TNF antibody adjacent to the hippocampus completely alleviated pain. Furthermore, icv infusion of rTNF adjacent to the hippocampus induced pain behavior in naïve animals similar to that expressed during a model of neuropathic pain. These data support our premise that enhanced production of hippocampal-TNF is integral in pain sensation. In the present study, TNF gene expression was induced exclusively in the hippocampus eliciting increased local bioactive TNF levels, and animals were assessed for pain behaviors. Male, Sprague-Dawley rats received stereotaxic injection of gold nanorod (GNR)-complexed cDNA (control or TNF) plasmids (nanoplasmidexes), and pain responses (i.e., thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia) were measured. Animals receiving hippocampal microinjection of TNF nanoplasmidexes developed thermal hyperalgesia bilaterally. Sensitivity to mechanical stimulation also developed bilaterally in the rat hind paws. In support of these behavioral findings, immunoreactive staining for TNF, bioactive levels of TNF, and levels of TNF mRNA as per PCR analysis were assessed in several brain regions and found to be increased only in the hippocampus. These findings indicate that the specific elevation of TNF in the hippocampus is not a consequence of pain, but in fact induces these behaviors/symptoms.
doi:10.1016/j.pain.2012.05.028
PMCID: PMC3417838  PMID: 22770843
5.  Organically Modified Silica Nanoparticles with Intraparticle Heavy-Atom Effect on the Encapsulated Photosensitizer for Enhanced Efficacy of Photodynamic Therapy 
We report a novel nanoassembly formulation for photodynamic therapy, which is composed of covalently iodine-concentrated organically modified silica (ORMOSIL) nanoparticles (diameter <30 nm) and a hydrophobic photosensitizer embedded therein. Comparative studies with iodinated and non-iodinated nanoparticles have demonstrated that the intraparticle external heavy-atom effect on the encapsulated photosensitizer molecules significantly enhances the efficiency of 1O2 generation, and thereby, the in vitro PDT efficacy.
doi:10.1021/jp900573s
PMCID: PMC3686300  PMID: 23795227
6.  Near infrared phosphorescent polymeric nanomicelles: efficient optical probes for tumor imaging and detection 
ACS applied materials & interfaces  2009;1(7):1474-1481.
We report a formulation of near infrared (NIR) phosphorescent polymeric nanomicelles and their use for in vivo high contrast optical imaging, targeting and detection of tumors in small animals. NIR phosphorescent molecules of Pt(II)-tetraphenyltetranaphthoporphyrin [Pt(TPNP)] were found to maintain their NIR phosphorescence properties when encapsulated into phospholipid nanomicelles. The prepared phosphorescent micelles are of ~100 nm size and are highly stable in aqueous suspensions. A large spectral separation between Pt(TPNP) absorption, peaked at ~700 nm, and its phosphorescence emission, with peak at ~ 900 nm, allows a dramatic decrease in the level of background autofluorescence and scattered excitation light in the NIR spectral range, where the signal from phosphorescent probe is observed. In vivo animal imaging with subcutaneously xenograted tumor-bearing mice has resulted in high contrast optical images, indicating highly specific accumulation of the phosphorescent micelles into tumors. Using optical imaging with NIR phosphorescent nanomicelles, detection of smaller, visually undetectable tumors has also been demonstrated.
doi:10.1021/am9001293
PMCID: PMC3681954  PMID: 20355951
Optical imaging; Near Infra Red (NIR); Phosphorescence; nanomicelles
7.  Core/Shell NaGdF4:Nd3+/NaGdF4 Nanocrystals with Efficient Near-Infrared to Near-Infrared Downconversion Photoluminescence for Bioimaging Applications 
ACS nano  2012;6(4):2969-2977.
We have synthesized core/shell NaGdF4:Nd3+/NaGdF4 nanocrystals with an average size of 15 nm and exceptionally high photoluminescence (PL) quantum yield. When excited at 740 nm, the nanocrystals manifest spectrally distinguished, near infrared to near infrared (NIR-to-NIR) downconversion PL peaked at ~900, ~1050, and ~1300 nm. The absolute quantum yield of NIR-to-NIR PL reached 40% for core-shell nanoparticles dispersed in hexane. Time-resolved PL measurements revealed that this high quantum yield was achieved through suppression of nonradiative recombination originating from surface states and cross relaxations between dopants. NaGdF4:Nd3+/NaGdF4 nanocrystals, synthesized in organic media, were further converted to be water-dispersible by eliminating the capping ligand of oleic acid. NIR-to-NIR PL bioimaging was demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo through visualization of the NIR-to-NIR PL at ~900 nm under incoherent lamp light excitation. The fact that both excitation and the PL of these nanocrystals are in the biological window of optical transparency, combined with their high quantum efficiency, spectral sharpness and photostability, makes these nanocrystals extremely promising as optical biomaging probes.
doi:10.1021/nn2042362
PMCID: PMC3430515  PMID: 22401578
near-infrared; photoluminescence; nanocrystals; lanthanide; bioimaging
8.  Morphine and galectin-1 modulate HIV-1 infection of human monocytes-derived macrophages 
Morphine is a widely abused, addictive drug that modulates immune function. Macrophages are a primary reservoir of HIV-1; therefore, they not only play a role in the development of this disease but also impact the overall course of disease progression. Galectin-1 is a member of a family of β-galactoside-binding lectins that are soluble adhesion molecules and that mediate direct cell-pathogen interactions during HIV-1 viral adhesion. Since the drug abuse epidemic and the HIV-1 epidemic are closely interrelated we propose that increased expression of galectin-1 induced by morphine may modulate HIV-1 infection of human monocytes-derived macrophages (MDM). Here, we show that galectin-1 gene and protein expression are potentiated by incubation with morphine. Confirming previous studies, morphine alone or galectin-1 alone enhance HIV-1 infection of MDM. Concomitant incubation with exogenous galectin-1 and morphine potentiated HIV-1 infection of MDM. We utilized a nanotechnology approach that uses gold nanorod-galectin-1 siRNA complexes (nanoplexes) to inhibit gene expression for galectin-1. We found that nanoplexes silenced gene expression for galectin-1 and the nanoplexes reversed the effects of morphine on galectin-1 expression. Furthermore, the effects of morphine on HIV-1 infection were reduced in the presence of the nanoplex.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1102276
PMCID: PMC3324598  PMID: 22430735
9.  Facile Synthesis and Potential Bioimaging Applications of Hybrid Upconverting and Plasmonic NaGdF4: Yb3+, Er3+/Silica/Gold Nanoparticles 
Theranostics  2013;3(4):275-281.
We present a simple method for preparing water dispersible NaGdF4: Yb3+, Er3+/silica/gold nanoparticles. The emission intensity and color of the upconverting cores are modulated by the plasmonic absorbance and field enhancement from the gold nanoparticles. The applicability of hybrid NPs for multi-modal bioimaging probes is illustrated by in vitro confocal microscopy of living cancer cells.
doi:10.7150/thno.4983
PMCID: PMC3630528  PMID: 23606914
Upconversion; Gold; Nanoparticles; Photoluminescence; Bioimaging.
10.  Bioengineering Silicon Quantum Dot Theranostics using a Network Analysis of Metabolomic and Proteomic Data in Cardiac Ischemia 
Theranostics  2013;3(9):719-728.
Metabolomic profiling is ideally suited for the analysis of cardiac metabolism in healthy and diseased states. Here, we show that systematic discovery of biomarkers of ischemic preconditioning using metabolomics can be translated to potential nanotheranostics. Thirty-three patients underwent percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) after myocardial infarction. Blood was sampled from catheters in the coronary sinus, aorta and femoral vein before coronary occlusion and 20 minutes after one minute of coronary occlusion. Plasma was analysed using GC-MS metabolomics and iTRAQ LC-MS/MS proteomics. Proteins and metabolites were mapped into the Metacore network database (GeneGo, MI, USA) to establish functional relevance. Expression of 13 proteins was significantly different (p<0.05) as a result of PCI. Included amongst these was CD44, a cell surface marker of reperfusion injury. Thirty-eight metabolites were identified using a targeted approach. Using PCA, 42% of their variance was accounted for by 21 metabolites. Multiple metabolic pathways and potential biomarkers of cardiac ischemia, reperfusion and preconditioning were identified. CD44, a marker of reperfusion injury, and myristic acid, a potential preconditioning agent, were incorporated into a nanotheranostic that may be useful for cardiovascular applications. Integrating biomarker discovery techniques into rationally designed nanoconstructs may lead to improvements in disease-specific diagnosis and treatment.
doi:10.7150/thno.5010
PMCID: PMC3767118  PMID: 24019856
metabolomics; silicon quantum dots; theranostics; cardiac ischemia; myocardial infarction.
11.  Anti-HIV-1 nanotherapeutics: promises and challenges for the future 
The advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has significantly improved the prognosis for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients, however the adverse side effects associated with prolonged HAART therapy use continue. Although systemic viral load can be undetectable, the virus remains sequestered in anatomically privileged sites within the body. Nanotechnology-based delivery systems are being developed to target the virus within different tissue compartments and are being evaluated for their safety and efficacy. The current review outlines the various nanomaterials that are becoming increasingly used in biomedical applications by virtue of their robustness, safety, multimodality, and multifunctionality. Nanotechnology can revolutionize the field of HIV medicine by not only improving diagnosis, but also by improving delivery of antiretrovirals to targeted regions in the body and by significantly enhancing the efficacy of the currently available antiretroviral medications.
doi:10.2147/IJN.S25871
PMCID: PMC3468275  PMID: 23055735
nanotherapeutics; HAART; HIV; nano; nanomedicine; drug delivery
12.  Intense Visible and Near-Infrared Upconversion Photoluminescence in Colloidal LiYF4:Er3+ Nanocrystals under Excitation at 1490 nm 
ACS nano  2011;5(6):4981-4986.
We report intense upconversion photoluminescence (PL) in colloidal LiYF4:Er3+ nanocrystals under excitation with telecom-wavelength at 1490 nm. The intensities of two- and three-photon anti-Stokes upconversion PL bands are higher than or comparable to that of the Stokes emission under excitation with low power density in the range of 5–120 W/cm2. The quantum yield of the upconversion PL was measured to be as high as ~1.2±0.1%, which is almost 4 times higher than the highest upconversion PL quantum yield reported up to date for lanthanide-doped nanocrystals in 100 nm sized hexagonal NaYF4:Yb3+20%, Er3+2% using excitation at ~980 nm. Power dependence study revealed that the intensities of all PL bands have linear dependence on the excitation power density, which was explained by saturation effects in the intermediate energy states.
doi:10.1021/nn201083j
PMCID: PMC3430509  PMID: 21557587
near-infrared; upconversion photoluminescence; nanocrystals; lanthanide; telecommunications
13.  Doxorubicin conjugated quantum dots to target alveolar macrophages/inflammation 
Nanomedicine  2010;7(1):88-96.
The ability to provide targeted therapeutic delivery in the lung would be a major advancement in pharmacological treatments for many pulmonary diseases. Critical issues for such successful delivery would require the ability to target specific cell types, minimize toxicity (i.e. inflammatory response) and to deliver therapeutic levels of drugs. We report here on the ability of nanoconjugates of CdSe/CdS/ZnS Quantum Dots (QDs) and doxorubicin (Dox) to target alveolar macrophages cells (aMØ), which play a critical role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory lung injuries. Confocal imaging showed the release of Dox from the QD-Dox nanoconjugate, as was evident by its accumulation in the cell nucleus and induction of apoptosis, suggesting that the drug retains its bioactivity after coupling to the nanoparticle. Inflammatory injury parameters (albumin leakage, proinflammatory cytokines and neutrophil infiltration) were recorded after in vivo admistration of QD-Dox and Dox observing no significant effect after QD-Dox treatment compared with Dox. These results demonstrate that nanoparticle platforms can provide targeted macrophage-selective therapy for the treatment of pulmonary disease.
doi:10.1016/j.nano.2010.09.001
PMCID: PMC3363005  PMID: 20887813
Quantum dots; alveolar macrophages; drug delivery; cytokines; inflammation
14.  Organically Modified Silica Nanoparticles Are Biocompatible and Can Be Targeted to Neurons In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29424.
The application of nanotechnology in biological research is beginning to have a major impact leading to the development of new types of tools for human health. One focus of nanobiotechnology is the development of nanoparticle-based formulations for use in drug or gene delivery systems. However most of the nano probes currently in use have varying levels of toxicity in cells or whole organisms and therefore are not suitable for in vivo application or long-term use. Here we test the potential of a novel silica based nanoparticle (organically modified silica, ORMOSIL) in living neurons within a whole organism. We show that feeding ORMOSIL nanoparticles to Drosophila has no effect on viability. ORMOSIL nanoparticles penetrate into living brains, neuronal cell bodies and axonal projections. In the neuronal cell body, nanoparticles are present in the cytoplasm, but not in the nucleus. Strikingly, incorporation of ORMOSIL nanoparticles into the brain did not induce aberrant neuronal death or interfered with normal neuronal processes. Our results in Drosophila indicate that these novel silica based nanoparticles are biocompatible and not toxic to whole organisms, and has potential for the development of long-term applications.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029424
PMCID: PMC3250438  PMID: 22238611
15.  Gene Silencing of Human Neuronal Cells for Drug Addiction Therapy using Anisotropic Nanocrystals 
Theranostics  2012;2(7):695-704.
Theranostic platform integrating diagnostic imaging and therapeutic function into a single system has become a new direction of nanoparticle research. In the process of treatment, therapeutic efficacy is monitored. The use of theranostic nanoparticle can add an additional "layer" to keep track on the therapeutic agent such as the pharmacokinetics and biodistribution. In this report, we have developed quantum rod (QR) based formulations for the delivery of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to human neuronal cells. PEGlyated QRs with different surface functional groups (amine and maleimide) were designed for selectively down-regulating the dopaminergic signaling pathway which is associated with the drug abuse behavior. We have demonstrated that the DARPP-32 siRNAs were successfully delivered to dopaminergic neuronal (DAN) cells which led to drastic knockdown of specific gene expression by both the electrostatic and covalent bond conjugation regimes. The PEGlyated surface offered high biocompatibilities and negligible cytotoxicities to the QR formulations that may facilitate the in vivo applications of these nanoparticles.
doi:10.7150/thno.3459
PMCID: PMC3418925  PMID: 22896771
Quantum Rod; Gene Delivery; Addiction Gene Therapy; Phospholipid; PEG; siRNA.
16.  Bioconjugated Pluronic Triblock-Copolymer Micelle-Encapsulated Quantum Dots for Targeted Imaging of Cancer: In Vitro and In Vivo Studies 
Theranostics  2012;2(7):705-713.
Early in this study, CdTe/ZnS core/shell quantum dots (QDs) were encapsulated in carboxylated Pluronic F127 triblock polymeric micelle, to preserve the optical and colloidal stability of QDs in biological fluids. Folic acid (FA) was then conjugated to the surface of QDs for the targeted delivery of the QD formulation to the tumor site, by exploiting the overexpressed FA receptors (FARs) on the tumor cells. Cytotoxicity study demonstrated that the QD formulation has negligible in vitro toxicity. The in vitro study showed that the bioconjugated micelle-encapsulated QDs, but not the unconjugated QDs, were able to efficiently label Panc-1 cancer cells. In vivo imaging study showed that bioconjugated QDs were able to target tumor site after intravenous injection of the formulation in tumor-bearing mice.
doi:10.7150/thno.3456
PMCID: PMC3418931  PMID: 22896772
Quantum dots; Targeted delivery; Bioimaging; Bioconjugation; Pluronics and Nanotoxicity.
17.  Gold Nanorod-siRNA Induces Efficient In Vivo Gene Silencing in the Rat Hippocampus 
Nanomedicine (London, England)  2011;6(4):617-630.
Gold nanorods (GNRs), cellular imaging nanoprobes, have been used for drug delivery therapy to immunologically privileged regions in the brain. We demonstrate that nanoplexes formed by electrostatic binding between negatively charged RNA and positively charged GNRs, silence the expression of the target housekeeping gene, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) within the CA1 hippocampal region of the rat brain, without showing cytotoxicity. Fluorescence imaging with siRNACy3GAPDH and dark field imaging using plasmonic enhanced scattering from GNRs were used to monitor the distribution of the nanoplexes within different neuronal cell types present in the targeted hippocampal region. Our results show robust nanoplex uptake and slow release of the fluorescent gene silencer with significant impact on suppression of GAPDH gene expression (70% gene silencing, >10 days post-injection). The observed gene knockdown using nanoplexes in targeted regions of the brain opens a new era of drug treatment for neurological disorders.
doi:10.2217/nnm.11.20
PMCID: PMC3132138  PMID: 21718174
gold nanorods; hippocampus; rat; siRNA; transfection; neurological disorders; dark field; brain
18.  Nanotherapeutics Using an HIV-1 Poly A and Transactivator of the HIV-1 LTR-(TAR-) Specific siRNA 
HIV-1 replication can be efficiently inhibited by intracellular expression of an siRNA targeting the viral RNA. We used a well-validated siRNA (si510) which targets the poly A/TAR (transactivator of the HIV-1 LTR) site and suppresses viral replication. Nanotechnology holds much potential for impact in the field of HIV-1 therapeutics, and nanoparticles such as quantum rods (QRs) can be easily functionalized to incorporate siRNA forming stable nanoplexes that can be used for gene silencing. We evaluated the efficacy of the QR-si510 HIV-1 siRNA nanoplex in suppressing viral replication in the HIV-1-infected monocytic cell line THP-1 by measuring p24 antigen levels and gene expression levels of HIV-1 LTR. Our results suggest that the QR-si510 HIV-1 siRNA nanoplex is not only effective in delivering siRNA, but also in suppressing HIV-1 viral replication for a longer time period. HIV-1 nanotherapeutics can thus enhance systemic bioavailability and offer multifunctionality.
doi:10.4061/2011/719139
PMCID: PMC3108557  PMID: 21660279
19.  In vivo Biodistribution and Clearance Studies using Multimodal ORMOSIL Nanoparticles 
ACS nano  2010;4(2):699-708.
Successful translation of the use of nanoparticles from laboratories to clinics requires exhaustive and elaborate studies involving the biodistribution, clearance and biocompatibility of nanoparticles for in vivo biomedical applications. We report here the use of multimodal organically modified silica (ORMOSIL) nanoparticles for in vivo bioimaging, biodistribution, clearance and toxicity studies. We have synthesized ORMOSIL nanoparticles with diameters of 20-25 nm, conjugated with near infra-red (NIR) fluorophores and radiolabelled them with 124I, for optical and PET imaging in vivo. The biodistribution of the non targeted nanoparticles was studied in non-tumored nude mice by optical fluorescence imaging, as well by measuring the radioactivity from harvested organs. Biodistribution studies showed a greater accumulation of nanoparticles in liver, spleen and stomach than in kidney, heart and lungs. The clearance studies carried out over a period of 15 days indicated hepatobiliary excretion of the nanoparticles. Selected tissues were analyzed for any potential toxicity by histological analysis, which confirmed the absence of any adverse effect or any other abnormalities in the tissues. The results demonstrate that these multimodal nanoparticles have potentially ideal attributes for use as biocompatible probes for in vivo imaging.
doi:10.1021/nn901146y
PMCID: PMC2827663  PMID: 20088598
ORMOSIL Nanoparticles; optical and PET Imaging; NIR fluorophore; 124I radiolabeling; Biodistribution; clearance and toxicity
20.  Combined magnetic resonance and optical imaging of head and neck tumor xenografts using Gadolinium-labelled phosphorescent polymeric nanomicelles 
Head & Neck Oncology  2010;2:35.
Background
The overall objective of this study was to develop a nanoparticle formulation for dual modality imaging of head and neck cancer. Here, we report the synthesis and characterization of polymeric phospholipid-based nanomicelles encapsulating near-infrared (NIR) phosphorescent molecules of Pt(II)-tetraphenyltetranaphthoporphyrin [Pt(TPNP)] and surface functionalized with gadolinium [Pt(TPNP)-Gd] for combined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and NIR optical imaging applications.
Methods
Dynamic light scattering, electron microscopy, optical spectroscopy and MR relaxometric measurements were performed to characterize the optical and magnetic properties of nanoparticles in vitro. Subsequently, in vivo imaging experiments were carried out using nude mice bearing primary patient tumor-derived human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma xenografts.
Results
The nanomicelles were ~100 nm in size and stable in aqueous suspension. T1-weighted MRI and relaxation rate (R1 = 1/T1) measurements carried out at 4.7 T revealed enhancement in the tumor immediately post injection with nanomicelles, particularly in the tumor periphery which persisted up to 24 hours post administration. Maximum intensity projections (MIPs) generated from 3D T1-weighted images also demonstrated visible enhancement in contrast within the tumor, liver and blood vessels. NIR optical imaging performed (in vivo and ex vivo) following completion of MRI at the 24 h time point confirmed tumor localization of the nanoparticles. The large spectral separation between the Pt(TPNP) absorption (~700 nm) and phosphorescence emission (~900 nm) provided a dramatic decrease in the level of background, resulting in high contrast optical (NIR phosphorescence) imaging.
Conclusions
In conclusion, Pt(TPNP)-Gd nanomicelles exhibit a high degree of tumor-avidity and favorable imaging properties that allow for combined MR and optical imaging of head and neck tumors. Further investigation into the potential of Pt(TPNP)-Gd nanomicelles for combined imaging and therapy of cancer is currently underway.
doi:10.1186/1758-3284-2-35
PMCID: PMC3003650  PMID: 21110873
21.  MMP-9 gene silencing by a Quantum Dot-siRNA nanoplex delivery to maintain the integrity of the blood brain barrier 
Brain research  2009;1282:142-155.
The matrix-degrading metalloproteinases (MMPs), particularly MMP-9, are involved in the neuroinflammation processes leading to disrupting of the blood brain barrier (BBB), thereby exacerbating neurological diseases such as HIV-1 AIDS dementia and cerebral ischemia. Nanoparticles have been proposed to act as non-viral gene delivery vectors and have great potential for therapeutic applications in several disease states. In this study, we evaluated the specificity and efficiency of quantum dot (QD) complexed with MMP-9-siRNA (nanoplex) in downregulating the expression of MMP-9 gene in brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMVEC) that constitute the BBB. We hypothesize that silencing MMP-9 gene expression in BMVECs and other cells such as leukocytes may help prevent breakdown of the BBB and inhibit subsequent invasion of the central nervous system (CNS) by infected and inflammatory cells. Our results show that silencing of MMP-9 gene expression resulted in the upregulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins like collagen I, IV, V and a decrease in endothelial permeability, as reflected by reduction of transendothelial resistance across the BBB in a well validated in-vitro BBB model. MMP-9 gene silencing also resulted in an increase in expression of the gene tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1). This indicates the importance of a balance between the levels of MMP-9 and its natural inhibitor TIMP-1 in maintaining the basement membrane integrity. These studies promise the application of a novel nanoparticle based siRNA delivery system in modulating the MMP-9 activity in BMVECs and other MMP-9 producing cells. This will prevent neuroinflammation and maintain the integrity of the BBB.
doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2009.05.047
PMCID: PMC2762384  PMID: 19477169
Nanotechnology; siRNA; Nanoplex; Blood Brain Barrier; Matrix metalloproteinases; MMP-9; Quantum Dot; CNS
22.  Enhancing the Delivery of Anti Retroviral Drug “Saquinavir” Across the Blood Brain Barrier Using Nanoparticles 
Current HIV research  2010;8(5):396-404.
Antiretroviral drugs are ineffective at treating viral infection in the brain because they cannot freely diffuse across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Therefore, HIV-1 viral replication persists in the central nervous system (CNS) and continues to augment the neuropathogenesis process. Nanotechnology can play a pivotal role in HIV-1 therapeutics as it can increase drug solubility, enhance systemic bioavailability, and at the same time offer multifunctionality. Moreover, following conjugation with transferrin (Tf), these drug-loaded nanoformulations can permeate across biological barriers such as the blood brain barrier (BBB) via a receptor mediated transport mechanism. In the current study, we have stably incorporated the antiviral drug, Saquinavir, within Tf-conjugated quantum rods (QRs), which are novel nanoparticles with unique optical properties. We have evaluated the transversing ability of the QR-Tf-Saquinavir nanoformulation across an in vitro model of BBB. In addition, we have analyzed the subsequent antiviral efficacy of this targeted nanoformulation in HIV-1 infected peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), which are cultured on the basolateral end of the in vitro BBB model. Our results show a significant uptake of QR-Tf-Saquinavir by brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMVECs), which constitute the BBB. In addition, we observed a significant enhancement in the transversing capability of QR-Tf-Saquinavir across the BBB, along with a marked decrease in HIV-1 viral replication in the PBMCs. These observations indicate that drug-loaded nanoparticles can deliver therapeutics across the BBB. These results highlight the potential of this nanoformulation in the treatment of Neuro-AIDS and other neurological disorders.
PMCID: PMC2904057  PMID: 20426757
HIV-1; antiretroviral drugs; saquinavir; protease inhibitor; quantum rods (QR); blood brain barrier; transferrin receptor; multimodal nanoparticles and bioconjugation
23.  Tumor Targeting and Imaging in Live Animals with Functionalized Semiconductor Quantum Rods 
In this contribution, we demonstrate that highly luminescent CdSe/CdS/ZnS quantum rods (QRs) coated with PEGylated phospholipids and conjugated with cyclic RGD-peptide can be successfully used for tumor targeting and imaging in live animals. The design of these targeted luminescent probes involves encapsulating hydrophobic CdSe/CdS/ZnS QRs with PEGylated phospholipids, followed by conjugation of these PEGylated phospholipids to ligands that specifically target the tumor vasculature. In vivo optical imaging studies in nude mice bearing pancreatic cancer xenografts, both subcutaneous and orthotopic, indicate that the QR probes accumulate at tumor sites via the cyclic RGD-peptides on the QR surface binding to theαVβ3 integrins overexpressed in the tumor vasculature, following systemic injection. In vivo tumor detection studies showed no adverse effects even at a dose roughly 6.5 times higher than has been reported for in vivo imaging studies using QDs. Cytotoxicity studies indicated absence of any toxic effect in the cellular and tissue levels arising from functionalized QRs. These results demonstrate the vast potential of QRs as bright, photostable, and biocompatible luminescent probes for the early diagnosis of cancer.
doi:10.1021/am8002318
PMCID: PMC2768400  PMID: 20160901
24.  Imaging Pancreatic Cancer Using Bioconjugated InP Quantum Dots 
ACS nano  2009;3(3):502-510.
In this paper, we report the successful use of non-cadmium based quantum dots (QDs) as highly efficient and non-toxic optical probes for imaging live pancreatic cancer cells. Indium phosphide (core)-zinc sulphide (shell), or InP/ZnS, QDs with high quality and bright luminescence were prepared by a hot colloidal synthesis method in non-aqueous media. The surfaces of these QDs were then functionalized with mercaptosuccinic acid to make them highly dispersible in aqueous media. Further bioconjugation with pancreatic cancer specific monoclonal antibodies, such as anti-claudin 4 and anti-prostate stem cell antigen (anti-PSCA), to the functionalized InP/ZnS QDs, allowed specific in vitro targeting of pancreatic cancer cell lines (both immortalized and low passage ones). The receptor mediated delivery of the bioconjugates was further confirmed by the observation of poor in vitro targeting in non-pancreatic cancer based cell lines which are negative for the claudin-4-receptor. These observations suggest the immense potential of InP/ZnS QDs as non-cadmium based safe and efficient optical imaging nanoprobes in diagnostic imaging, particularly for early detection of cancer.
doi:10.1021/nn8008933
PMCID: PMC2762404  PMID: 19243145
Quantum dots; Bioconjugates; Bioimaging; Pancreatic Cancer; Targeted Delivery
25.  Multifunctional Nanoparticles as Biocompatible Targeted Probes for Human Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy 
Journal of materials chemistry  2009;19:4655-4672.
The use of nanoparticles in biological application has been rapidly advancing toward practical applications in human cancer diagnosis and therapy. Upon linking the nanoparticles with biomolecules, they can be used to locate cancerous area as well as for traceable drug delivery with high affinity and specificity. In this review, we discuss the engineering of multifunctional nanoparticle probes and their use in bioimaging and nanomedicine.
doi:10.1039/b817667c
PMCID: PMC2841409  PMID: 20305738

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