Radiation-damaged nanodiamonds (NDs) are ideal optical contrast agents for photoacoustic (PA) imaging in biological tissues due to their good biocompatibility and high optical absorbance in the near-infrared (NIR) range. Acid treated NDs are oxidized to form carboxyl groups on the surface, functionalized with polyethylene glycol (PEG) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) targeting ligand for breast cancer tumor imaging. Because of the specific binding of the ligand conjugated NDs to the HER2-overexpressing murine breast cancer cells (4T1.2 neu), the tumor tissues are significantly delineated from the surrounding normal tissue at wavelength of 820 nm under the PA imaging modality. Moreover, HER2 targeted NDs (HER2-PEG-NDs) result in higher accumulation in HER2 positive breast tumors as compared to non-targeted NDs after intravenous injection (i.v.). Longer retention time of HER-PEG-NDs is observed in HER2 overexpressing tumor model than that in negative tumor model (4T1.2). This demonstrates that targeting moiety conjugated NDs have great potential for the sensitive detection of cancer tumors and provide an attractive delivery strategy for anti-cancer drugs.
Radiation-damaged nanodiamonds (DNDs) are potentially ideal optical contrast agents for photoacoustic (PA) imaging in biological tissues due to their low toxicity and high optical absorbance. PA imaging contrast agents have been limited to quantum dots and gold particles, since most existing carbon-based nanoparticles, including fluorescent nanodiamonds, do not have sufficient optical absorption in the near-infrared (NIR) range. A new DND by He + ion beam irradiation with very high NIR absorption was synthesized. These DNDs produced a 71-fold higher PA signal on a molar basis than similarly dimensioned gold nanorods, and 7.1 fmol of DNDs injected into rodents could be clearly imaged 3 mm below the skin surface with PA signal enhancement of 567% using an 820-nm laser wavelength.