Near infrared (NIR) emitting quantum dots based on copper indium chalcogenides present unique optical properties for in vivo fluorescence imaging. Here we present the synthesis of CuIn(S,Se)2/ZnS core/shell QDs with 30-50% quantum yield in the NIR range. These nanoprobes are solubilized in water using a block copolymer surface ligand composed of multiple binding groups for enhanced stability and zwitterionic groups for solubility and minimized nonspecific adsorption. They present limited toxicity compared to heavy metal-containing QDs. These versatile nanoprobes can be directly injected in the peritumoral region for sentinel lymph node imaging. We also demonstrate their vectorization with RGD peptides or their incorporation in folic acid-functionalized silica particles to target specific cancer cells. Their long fluorescence lifetime enables rejection of autofluorescence using time-gated detection. This considerably enhances the sensitivity of in vivo fluorescence imaging. These QDs have been used for long term labeling of cancer cells ex vivo. Following reinjection of these cells, time-gated detection enables in vivo imaging of these cancer cells in the blood stream at the single cell level. Finally, these QDs can be doped with paramagnetic manganese ions to provide multimodal contrast in both fluorescence and magnetic resonance imaging.
Thomas Pons, "Development of near infrared I-III-VI quantum dots for in vivo imaging applications (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10078, Colloidal Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications XII, 100780Z (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 30, 2017; Published: 24 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2249777.5381802552001.
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