Cellulose nanoparticles are a biodegradable photoacoustic contrast agent for use in living mice

Jesse V Jokerst, Dominique Van de Sompel, Sarah E Bohndiek, Sanjiv S Gambhir
Molecular imaging with photoacoustic ultrasound is an emerging field that combines the spatial and temporal resolution of ultrasound with the contrast of optical imaging. However, there are few imaging agents that offer both high signal intensity and biodegradation into small molecules. Here we describe a cellulose-based nanoparticle with peak photoacoustic signal at 700 nm and an in vitro limit of detection of 6 pM (0.02 mg/mL). Doses down to 0.35 nM (1.2 mg/mL) were used to image mouse models of ovarian cancer. Most importantly, the nanoparticles were shown to biodegrade in the presence of cellulase both through a glucose assay and electron microscopy.

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