The team, which includes scientists from Vanderbilt University, the Vanderbilt University Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science, has developed fluorescent magnetic hybrid nanoprobes for multimodal bioimaging.

Dual imaging channels

Stable colloidal dispersions of hybrid probes were formed by coupling semiconductor quantum dots to magnetic nanoparticles. The resulting imaging probes possess the attributes required for both magnetic resonance and fluorescent imaging in a single system.

Due to the unique optical properties of the quantum dots used in this fabrication, the emission of the nanoprobe could be tuned to the near-infrared range, a substantial benefit for in vivo imaging since the light-tissue interaction is minimal in this range.

Given the potential clinical applications of the particles, conventional cadmium containing quantum dots in the hybrid nanoprobe were replaced by cadmium-free quantum dots, thereby constituting a further welcome advance in the pursuit of biocompatible multimodal bioimaging.

To demonstrate the potential use of the newly developed imaging nanoprobes, the scientists used the particles to image lung lymph nodes in a mouse model system.

Thanks to its stability, the nanoprobe provides ideal characteristics for imaging targets that require longitudinal migration tracking. Aside from the cell tracking study, the researchers envision that the hybrid technology described in this work will provide an improved circulation half-life in vivo. This could potentially yield a longer residence time at the target site, thereby enhancing the contrast signal.

The team believes that this work will help in the development of new classes of multimodal imaging agents and contribute to improved medical diagnostic imaging and therapy.

Additional information can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.