Deep, noninvasive imaging and surgical guidance of submillimeter tumors using targeted M13-stabilized single-walled carbon nanotubes.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, Volume 111, Issue 38, p.13948-53 (2014)


Animals, Bacteriophage M13, Cell Line, Tumor, Contrast Media, Drug Delivery Systems, Fluorescent Dyes, Humans, Mice, Nanotubes, Carbon, Neoplasms, Optical Imaging, Peptides


Highly sensitive detection of small, deep tumors for early diagnosis and surgical interventions remains a challenge for conventional imaging modalities. Second-window near-infrared light (NIR2, 950-1,400 nm) is promising for in vivo fluorescence imaging due to deep tissue penetration and low tissue autofluorescence. With their intrinsic fluorescence in the NIR2 regime and lack of photobleaching, single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) are potentially attractive contrast agents to detect tumors. Here, targeted M13 virus-stabilized SWNTs are used to visualize deep, disseminated tumors in vivo. This targeted nanoprobe, which uses M13 to stably display both tumor-targeting peptides and an SWNT imaging probe, demonstrates excellent tumor-to-background uptake and exhibits higher signal-to-noise performance compared with visible and near-infrared (NIR1) dyes for delineating tumor nodules. Detection and excision of tumors by a gynecological surgeon improved with SWNT image guidance and led to the identification of submillimeter tumors. Collectively, these findings demonstrate the promise of targeted SWNT nanoprobes for noninvasive disease monitoring and guided surgery.