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Intrinsically absorbing photoacoustic and ultrasound contrast agents for cancer therapy and imaging

Donald A. Fernandes, Michael C. Kolios
Nanoparticles are submicrometer in size and are used in a variety of ways in the biomedical field. They can carry therapeutic drugs, either in the particle core or surface to target cancer sites in the body. Additionally they can contain imaging agents to diagnose and monitor the tumor size using different imaging modalities, such as fluorescence and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. Novel theranostic nanoparticle agents, called perfluorohexane nanoemulsions (PFHNEs) were synthesized whose intrinsic properties could be used for both imaging (ultrasound and photoacoustic) and therapy. Compared to other theranostic agents, our PFH-NEs can absorb sufficient near-infrared light to enhance contrast and provide deeper penetration imaging at laser fluences causing minimal damage to healthy tissue. One contrast mechanism (optical absorption/ photoacoustics) allows us to validate localization of the agent and another (acoustic impedance/ ultrasound) allows the imaging of therapeutic delivery after particle activation. In this work, we show the potential of these PFH-NEs to be used as multimodal imaging agents and for therapy.

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