Honors & Awards

  • Breast Cancer Research Program Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, DOD (2011-2013)
  • Travel Award, WMIC (2010)
  • Travel Award, ARCMP (2010)
  • Ford Motor Company Fellowship, UW College of Engineering (2007)
  • NSF/NCI IGERT Fellowship, UW Center for Nanotechnology (2006)
  • UIF Fellowship, UW Center for Nanotechnology (2005)
  • NSF IGERT Fellowship, UW Center of Nanotechnology (2004)

Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Science, University of Washington (2003)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Washington (2008)

Stanford Advisors

  • Lei Xing, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor


Journal Articles

  • Synthesis and Radioluminescence of PEGylated Eu3+-doped Nanophosphors as Bioimaging Probes ADVANCED MATERIALS Sun, C., Pratx, G., Carpenter, C. M., Liu, H., Cheng, Z., Gambhir, S. S., Xing, L. 2011; 23 (24): H195-H199

    View details for DOI 10.1002/adma.201100919

    View details for Web of Science ID 000293046600018

    View details for PubMedID 21557339

  • PEG-Mediated Synthesis of Highly Dispersive Multifunctional Superparamagnetic Nanoparticles: Their Physicochemical Properties and Function In Vivo ACS NANO Sun, C., Du, K., Fang, C., Bhattarai, N., Veiseh, O., Kievit, F., Stephen, Z., Lee, D., Ellenbogen, R. G., Ratner, B., Zhang, M. 2010; 4 (4): 2402-2410


    Multifunctional superparamagnetic nanoparticles have been developed for a wide range of applications in nanomedicine, such as serving as tumor-targeted drug carriers and molecular imaging agents. To function in vivo, the development of these novel materials must overcome several challenging requirements including biocompatibility, stability in physiological solutions, nontoxicity, and the ability to traverse biological barriers. Here we report a PEG-mediated synthesis process to produce well-dispersed, ultrafine, and highly stable iron oxide nanoparticles for in vivo applications. Utilizing a biocompatible PEG coating bearing amine functional groups, the produced nanoparticles serve as an effective platform with the ability to incorporate a variety of targeting, therapeutic, or imaging ligands. In this study, we demonstrated tumor-specific accumulation of these nanoparticles through both magnetic resonance and optical imaging after conjugation with chlorotoxin, a peptide with high affinity toward tumors of the neuroectodermal origin, and Cy5.5, a near-infrared fluorescent dye. Furthermore, we performed preliminary biodistribution and toxicity assessments of these nanoparticles in wild-type mice through histological analysis of clearance organs and hematology assay, and the results demonstrated the relative biocompatibility of these nanoparticles.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nn100190v

    View details for Web of Science ID 000276956800076

    View details for PubMedID 20232826

  • Specific Targeting of Brain Tumors with an Optical/Magnetic Resonance Imaging Nanoprobe across the Blood-Brain Barrier CANCER RESEARCH Veiseh, O., Sun, C., Fang, C., Bhattarai, N., Gunn, J., Kievit, F., Du, K., Pullar, B., Lee, D., Ellenbogen, R. G., Olson, J., Zhang, M. 2009; 69 (15): 6200-6207


    Nanoparticle-based platforms have drawn considerable attention for their potential effect on oncology and other biomedical fields. However, their in vivo application is challenged by insufficient accumulation and retention within tumors due to limited specificity to the target, and an inability to traverse biological barriers. Here, we present a nanoprobe that shows an ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and specifically target brain tumors in a genetically engineered mouse model, as established through in vivo magnetic resonance and biophotonic imaging, and histologic and biodistribution analyses. The nanoprobe is comprised of an iron oxide nanoparticle coated with biocompatible polyethylene glycol-grafted chitosan copolymer, to which a tumor-targeting agent, chlorotoxin, and a near-IR fluorophore are conjugated. The nanoprobe shows an innocuous toxicity profile and sustained retention in tumors. With the versatile affinity of the targeting ligand and the flexible conjugation chemistry for alternative diagnostic and therapeutic agents, this nanoparticle platform can be potentially used for the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of tumor types.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-1157

    View details for Web of Science ID 000268737900026

    View details for PubMedID 19638572

  • Magnetic nanoparticles in MR imaging and drug delivery ADVANCED DRUG DELIVERY REVIEWS Sun, C., Lee, J. S., Zhang, M. 2008; 60 (11): 1252-1265


    Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) possess unique magnetic properties and the ability to function at the cellular and molecular level of biological interactions making them an attractive platform as contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and as carriers for drug delivery. Recent advances in nanotechnology have improved the ability to specifically tailor the features and properties of MNPs for these biomedical applications. To better address specific clinical needs, MNPs with higher magnetic moments, non-fouling surfaces, and increased functionalities are now being developed for applications in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of malignant tumors, cardiovascular disease, and neurological disease. Through the incorporation of highly specific targeting agents and other functional ligands, such as fluorophores and permeation enhancers, the applicability and efficacy of these MNPs have greatly increased. This review provides a background on applications of MNPs as MR imaging contrast agents and as carriers for drug delivery and an overview of the recent developments in this area of research.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.addr.2008.03.018

    View details for Web of Science ID 000258313900004

    View details for PubMedID 18558452

  • In vivo MRI detection of gliomas by chlorotoxin-conjugated superparamagnetic nanoprobes SMALL Sun, C., Veiseh, O., Gunn, J., Fang, C., Hansen, S., Lee, D., Sze, R., Ellenbogen, R. G., Olson, J., Zhang, M. 2008; 4 (3): 372-379


    Converging advances in the development of nanoparticle-based imaging probes and improved understanding of the molecular biology of brain tumors offer the potential to provide physicians with new tools for the diagnosis and treatment of these deadly diseases. However, the effectiveness of promising nanoparticle technologies is currently limited by insufficient accumulation of these contrast agents within tumors. Here a biocompatible nanoprobe composed of a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) coated iron oxide nanoparticle that is capable of specifically targeting glioma tumors via the surface-bound targeting peptide, chlorotoxin (CTX), is presented. The preferential accumulation of the nanoprobe within gliomas and subsequent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast enhancement are demonstrated in vitro in 9L cells and in vivo in tumors of a xenograft mouse model. TEM imaging reveals that the nanoprobes are internalized into the cytoplasm of 9L cells and histological analysis of selected tissues indicates that there are no acute toxic effects of these nanoprobes. High targeting specificity and benign biological response establish this nanoprobe as a potential platform to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of gliomas and other tumors of neuroectodermal origin.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smll.200700784

    View details for Web of Science ID 000254444200015

    View details for PubMedID 18232053

  • Hard X-ray-induced optical luminescence via biomolecule-directed metal clusters. Chemical communications (Cambridge, England) Osakada, Y., Pratx, G., Sun, C., Sakamoto, M., Ahmad, M., Volotskova, O., Ong, Q., Teranishi, T., Harada, Y., Xing, L., Cui, B. 2014


    Here, we demonstrate that biomolecule-directed metal clusters are applicable in the study of hard X-ray excited optical luminescence, promising a new direction in the development of novel X-ray-activated imaging probes.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c3cc48661c

    View details for PubMedID 24463467

  • Radioluminescence Microscopy: Measuring the Heterogeneous Uptake of Radiotracers in Single Living Cells PLOS ONE Pratx, G., Chen, K., Sun, C., Martin, L., Carpenter, C. M., Olcott, P. D., Xing, L. 2012; 7 (10)


    Radiotracers play an important role in interrogating molecular processes both in vitro and in vivo. However, current methods are limited to measuring average radiotracer uptake in large cell populations and, as a result, lack the ability to quantify cell-to-cell variations. Here we apply a new technique, termed radioluminescence microscopy, to visualize radiotracer uptake in single living cells, in a standard fluorescence microscopy environment. In this technique, live cells are cultured sparsely on a thin scintillator plate and incubated with a radiotracer. Light produced following beta decay is measured using a highly sensitive microscope. Radioluminescence microscopy revealed strong heterogeneity in the uptake of [(18)F]fluoro-deoxyglucose (FDG) in single cells, which was found consistent with fluorescence imaging of a glucose analog. We also verified that dynamic uptake of FDG in single cells followed the standard two-tissue compartmental model. Last, we transfected cells with a fusion PET/fluorescence reporter gene and found that uptake of FHBG (a PET radiotracer for transgene expression) coincided with expression of the fluorescent protein. Together, these results indicate that radioluminescence microscopy can visualize radiotracer uptake with single-cell resolution, which may find a use in the precise characterization of radiotracers.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0046285

    View details for Web of Science ID 000309454000029

    View details for PubMedID 23056276

  • Intraoperative Imaging of Tumors Using Cerenkov Luminescence Endoscopy: A Feasibility Experimental Study JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MEDICINE Liu, H., Carpenter, C. M., Jiang, H., Pratx, G., Sun, C., Buchin, M. P., Gambhir, S. S., Xing, L., Cheng, Z. 2012; 53 (10): 1579-1584


    Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) is an emerging new molecular imaging modality that is relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and has high throughput. CLI can image clinically available PET and SPECT probes using optical instrumentation. Cerenkov luminescence endoscopy (CLE) is one of the most intriguing applications that promise potential clinical translation. We developed a prototype customized fiberscopic Cerenkov imaging system to investigate the potential in guiding minimally invasive surgical resection.All experiments were performed in a dark chamber. Cerenkov luminescence from (18)F-FDG samples containing decaying radioactivity was transmitted through an optical fiber bundle and imaged by an intensified charge-coupled device camera. Phantoms filled with (18)F-FDG were used to assess the imaging spatial resolution. Finally, mice bearing subcutaneous C6 glioma cells were injected intravenously with (18)F-FDG to determine the feasibility of in vivo imaging. The tumor tissues were exposed, and CLI was performed on the mouse before and after surgical removal of the tumor using the fiber-based imaging system and compared with a commercial optical imaging system.The sensitivity of this particular setup was approximately 45 kBq (1.21 ?Ci)/300 ?L. The 3 smallest sets of cylindric holes in a commercial SPECT phantom were identifiable via this system, demonstrating that the system has a resolution better than 1.2 mm. Finally, the in vivo tumor imaging study demonstrated the feasibility of using CLI to guide the resection of tumor tissues.This proof-of-concept study explored the feasibility of using fiber-based CLE for the detection of tumor tissue in vivo for guided surgery. With further improvements of the imaging sensitivity and spatial resolution of the current system, CLE may have a significant application in the clinical setting in the near future.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.111.098541

    View details for Web of Science ID 000309432400017

    View details for PubMedID 22904353

  • Radioluminescent nanophosphors enable multiplexed small-animal imaging OPTICS EXPRESS Carpenter, C. M., Sun, C., Pratx, G., Liu, H., Cheng, Z., Xing, L. 2012; 20 (11): 11598-11604


    We demonstrate the ability to image multiple nanoparticle-based contrast agents simultaneously using a nanophosphor platform excited by either radiopharmaceutical or X-ray irradiation. These radioluminescent nanoparticles emit optical light at unique wavelengths depending on their lanthanide dopant, enabling multiplexed imaging. This study demonstrates the separation of two distinct nanophosphor contrast agents in gelatin phantoms with a recovered phosphor separation correlation of -0.98. The ability to distinguish the two nanophosphors and a Cerenkov component is then demonstrated in a small animal phantom. Combined with the high-resolution potential of low-scattering X-ray excitation, this imaging technique may be a promising method to probe molecular processes in living organisms.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000304403100002

    View details for PubMedID 22714145

  • Limited-angle x-ray luminescence tomography: methodology and feasibility study PHYSICS IN MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY Carpenter, C. M., Pratx, G., Sun, C., Xing, L. 2011; 56 (12): 3487-3502


    X-ray luminescence tomography (XLT) has recently been proposed as a new imaging modality for biological imaging applications. This modality utilizes phosphor nanoparticles which luminesce near-infrared light when excited by x-ray photons. The advantages of this modality are that it uniquely combines the high sensitivity of radioluminescent nanoparticles and the high spatial localization of collimated x-ray beams. Currently, XLT has been demonstrated using x-ray spatial encoding to resolve the imaging volume. However, there are applications where the x-ray excitation may be limited by geometry, where increased temporal resolution is desired, or where a lower dose is mandatory. This paper extends the utility of XLT to meet these requirements by incorporating a photon propagation model into the reconstruction algorithm in an x-ray limited-angle (LA) geometry. This enables such applications as image-guided surgery, where the ability to resolve lesions at depths of several centimeters can be the key to successful resection. The hybrid x-ray/diffuse optical model is first formulated and then demonstrated in a breast-sized phantom, simulating a breast lumpectomy geometry. Both numerical and experimental phantoms are tested, with lesion-simulating objects of various sizes and depths. Results show localization accuracy with median error of 2.2 mm, or 4% of object depth, for small 2-14 mm diameter lesions positioned from 1 to 4.5 cm in depth. This compares favorably with fluorescence optical imaging, which is not able to resolve such small objects at this depth. The recovered lesion size has lower size bias in the x-ray excitation direction than the optical direction, which is expected due to the increased optical scatter. However, the technique is shown to be quite invariant in recovered size with respect to depth, as the standard deviation is less than 2.5 mm. Sensitivity is a function of dose; radiological doses are found to provide sufficient recovery for µg ml(-1) concentrations, while therapy dosages provide recovery for ng ml(-1) concentrations. Experimental phantom results agree closely with the numerical results, with positional errors recovered within 8.6% of the effective depth for a 5 mm object, and within 5.2% of the depth for a 10 mm object. Object-size median error is within 2.3% and 2% for the 5 and 10 mm objects, respectively. For shallow-to-medium depth applications where optical and radio-emission imaging modalities are not ideal, such as in intra-operative procedures, LAXLT may be a useful tool to detect molecular signatures of disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1088/0031-9155/56/12/003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291095700004

    View details for PubMedID 21606553

  • Facile Synthesis of Amine-Functionalized Eu3+-Doped La(OH)(3) Nanophosphors for Bioimaging NANOSCALE RESEARCH LETTERS Sun, C., Carpenter, C., Pratx, G., Xing, L. 2011; 6
  • Glypican-3 Targeting of Liver Cancer Cells Using Multifunctional Nanoparticles MOLECULAR IMAGING Park, J. O., Stephen, Z., Sun, C., Veiseh, O., Kievit, F. M., Fang, C., Leung, M., Mok, H., Zhang, M. 2011; 10 (1): 69-77


    Imaging is essential in accurately detecting, staging, and treating primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma [HCC]), one of the most prevalent and lethal malignancies. We developed a novel multifunctional nanoparticle (NP) specifically targeting glypican-3 (GPC3), a proteoglycan implicated in promotion of cell growth that is overexpressed in most HCCs. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed to confirm the differential GPC3 expression in two human HCC cells, Hep G2 (high) and HLF (negligible). These cells were treated with biotin-conjugated GPC3 monoclonal antibody (?GPC3) and subsequently targeted using superparamagnetic iron oxide NPs conjugated to streptavidin and Alexa Fluor 647. Flow cytometry demonstrated that only GPC3-expressing Hep G2 cells were specifically targeted using this ?GPC3-NP conjugate (fourfold mean fluorescence over nontargeted NP), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) experiments showed similar findings (threefold R2 relaxivity). Confocal fluorescence microscopy localized the ?GPC3 NPs only to the cell surface of GPC3-expressing Hep G2 cells. Further characterization of this construct demonstrated a negatively charged, monodisperse, 50 nm NP, ideally suited for tumor targeting. This GPC3-specific NP system, with dual-modality imaging capability, may enhance pretreatment MRI, enable refined intraoperative HCC visualization by near-infrared fluorescence, and be potentially used as a carrier for delivery of tumor-targeted therapies, improving patient outcomes.

    View details for DOI 10.2310/7290.2010.00048

    View details for Web of Science ID 000290466200007

    View details for PubMedID 21303616

  • X-Ray Luminescence Computed Tomography via Selective Excitation: A Feasibility Study IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MEDICAL IMAGING Pratx, G., Carpenter, C. M., Sun, C., Xing, L. 2010; 29 (12): 1992-1999


    X-ray luminescence computed tomography (XLCT) is proposed as a new molecular imaging modality based on the selective excitation and optical detection of X-ray-excitable phosphor nanoparticles. These nano-sized particles can be fabricated to emit near-infrared (NIR) light when excited with X-rays, and, because because both X-rays and NIR photons propagate long distances in tissue, they are particularly well suited for in vivo biomedical imaging. In XLCT, tomographic images are generated by irradiating the subject using a sequence of programmed X-ray beams, while sensitive photo-detectors measure the light diffusing out of the subject. By restricting the X-ray excitation to a single, narrow beam of radiation, the origin of the optical photons can be inferred regardless of where these photons were detected, and how many times they scattered in tissue. This study presents computer simulations exploring the feasibility of imaging small objects with XLCT, such as research animals. The accumulation of 50 nm phosphor nanoparticles in a 2-mm-diameter target can be detected and quantified with subpicomolar sensitivity using less than 1 cGy of radiation dose. Provided sufficient signal-to-noise ratio, the spatial resolution of the system can be made as high as needed by narrowing the beam aperture. In particular, 1 mm spatial resolution was achieved for a 1-mm-wide X-ray beam. By including an X-ray detector in the system, anatomical imaging is performed simultaneously with molecular imaging via standard X-ray computed tomography (CT). The molecular and anatomical images are spatially and temporally co-registered, and, if a single-pixel X-ray detector is used, they have matching spatial resolution.

    View details for DOI 10.1109/TMI.2010.2055883

    View details for Web of Science ID 000284848700004

    View details for PubMedID 20615807

  • Tomographic molecular imaging of x-ray-excitable nanoparticles OPTICS LETTERS Pratx, G., Carpenter, C. M., Sun, C., Rao, R. P., Xing, L. 2010; 35 (20): 3345-3347


    X-ray luminescence computed tomography (XLCT) is proposed as a new dual molecular/anatomical imaging modality. XLCT is based on the selective excitation and optical detection of x-ray-excitable nanoparticles. As a proof of concept, we built a prototype XLCT system and imaged near-IR-emitting Gd(2)O(2)S:Eu phosphors in various phantoms. Imaging in an optically diffusive medium shows that imaging performance is not affected by optical scatter; furthermore, the linear response of the reconstructed images suggests that XLCT is capable of quantitative imaging.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000283048100013

    View details for PubMedID 20967061

  • Hybrid x-ray/optical luminescence imaging: Characterization of experimental conditions MEDICAL PHYSICS Carpenter, C. M., Sun, C., Pratx, G., Rao, R., Xing, L. 2010; 37 (8): 4011-4018


    The feasibility of x-ray luminescence imaging is investigated using a dual-modality imaging system that merges x-ray and optical imaging. This modality utilizes x-ray activated nanophosphors that luminesce when excited by ionizing photons. By doping phosphors with lanthanides, which emit light in the visible and near infrared range, the luminescence is suitable for biological applications. This study examines practical aspects of this new modality including phosphor concentration, light emission linearity, detector damage, and spectral emission characteristics. Finally, the contrast produced by these phosphors is compared to that of x-ray fluoroscopy.Gadolinium and lanthanum oxysulfide phosphors doped with terbium (green emission) or europium (red emission) were studied. The light emission was imaged in a clinical x-ray scanner with a cooled CCD camera and a spectrophotometer; dose measurements were determined with a calibrated dosimeter. Using these properties, in addition to luminescence efficiency values found in the literature for a similar phosphor, minimum concentration calculations are performed. Finally, a 2.5 cm agar phantom with a 1 cm diameter cylindrical phosphor-filled inclusion (diluted at 10 mg/ml) is imaged to compare x-ray luminescence contrast with x-ray fluoroscopic contrast at a superficial location.Dose to the CCD camera in the chosen imaging geometry was measured at less than 0.02 cGy/s. Emitted light was found to be linear with dose (R(2)= 1) and concentration (R(2)= 1). Emission peaks for clinical x-ray energies are less than 3 nm full width at half maximum, as expected from lanthanide dopants. The minimum practical concentration necessary to detect luminescent phosphors is dependent on dose; it is estimated that subpicomolar concentrations are detectable at the surface of the tissue with typical mammographic doses, with the minimum detectable concentration increasing with depth and decreasing with dose. In a reflection geometry, x-ray luminescence had nearly a 430-fold greater contrast to background than x-ray fluoroscopy.X-ray luminescence has the potential to be a promising new modality for enabling molecular imaging within x-ray scanners. Although much work needs to be done to ensure biocompatibility of x-ray exciting phosphors, the benefits of this modality, highlighted in this work, encourage further study.

    View details for DOI 10.1118/1.3457332

    View details for Web of Science ID 000281112900011

    View details for PubMedID 20879562

  • Rapid Pharmacokinetic and Biodistribution Studies Using Cholorotoxin-Conjugated Iron Oxide Nanoparticles: A Novel Non-Radioactive Method PLOS ONE Lee, M. J., Veiseh, O., Bhattarai, N., Sun, C., Hansen, S. J., Ditzler, S., Knoblaugh, S., Lee, D., Ellenbogen, R., Zhang, M., Olson, J. M. 2010; 5 (3)


    Recent advances in nanotechnology have led to the development of biocompatible nanoparticles for in vivo molecular imaging and targeted therapy. Many nanoparticles have undesirable tissue distribution or unacceptably low serum half-lives. Pharmacokinetic (PK) and biodistribution studies can help inform decisions determining particle size, coatings, or other features early in nanoparticle development. Unfortunately, these studies are rarely done in a timely fashion because many nanotechnology labs lack the resources and expertise to synthesize radioactive nanoparticles and evaluate them in mice.To address this problem, we developed an economical, radioactivity-free method for assessing serum half-life and tissue distribution of nanoparticles in mice. Iron oxide nanoparticles coated with chitosan and polyethylene glycol that utilize chlorotoxin as a targeting molecule have a serum half-life of 7-8 hours and the particles remain stable for extended periods of time in physiologic fluids and in vivo. Nanoparticles preferentially distribute to spleen and liver, presumably due to reticuloendothelial uptake. Other organs have very low levels of nanoparticles, which is ideal for imaging most cancers in the future. No acute toxicity was attributed to the nanoparticles.We report here a simple near-infrared fluorescence based methodology to assess PK properties of nanoparticles in order to integrate pharmacokinetic data into early nanoparticle design and synthesis. The nanoparticles tested demonstrate properties that are excellent for future clinical imaging strategies and potentially suitable for targeted therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0009536

    View details for Web of Science ID 000275197100016

    View details for PubMedID 20209054

  • Functionalized Nanoparticles with Long-Term Stability in Biological Media SMALL Fang, C., Bhattarai, N., Sun, C., Zhang, M. 2009; 5 (14): 1637-1641

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smll.200801647

    View details for Web of Science ID 000268559000003

    View details for PubMedID 19334014

  • Inhibition of Tumor-Cell Invasion with Chlorotoxin-Bound Superparamagnetic Nanoparticles SMALL Veiseh, O., Gunn, J. W., Kievit, F. M., Sun, C., Fang, C., Lee, J. S., Zhang, M. 2009; 5 (2): 256-264


    Nanoparticles have been investigated as drug delivery vehicles, contrast agents, and multifunctional devices for patient care. Current nanoparticle-based therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment are mainly based on delivery of chemotherapeutic agents to induce apoptosis or DNA/siRNA to regulate oncogene expression. Here, a nanoparticle system that demonstrates an alternative approach to the treatment of cancers through the inhibition of cell invasion, while serving as a magnetic resonance and optical imaging contrast agent, is presented. The nanoparticle comprises an iron oxide nanoparticle core conjugated with an amine-functionalized poly(ethylene glycol) silane and a small peptide, chlorotoxin (CTX), which enables the tumor cell-specific binding of the nanoparticle. It is shown that the nanoparticle exhibits substantially enhanced cellular uptake and an invasion inhibition rate of approximately 98% compared to unbound CTX ( approximately 45%). Significantly, the investigation from flow cytometry analysis, transmission electron microscopy, and fluorescent imaging reveals that the CTX-enabled nanoparticles deactivated the membrane-bound matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2) and induced increased internalization of lipid rafts that contain surface-expressed MMP-2 and volume-regulating ion channels through receptor-mediated endocytosis, leading to enhanced prohibitory effects. Since upregulation and activity of MMP-2 have been observed in tumors of neuroectodermal origin, and in cancers of the breast, colon, skin, lung, prostate, ovaries, and a host of others, this nanoparticle system can be potentially used for non-invasive diagnosis and treatment of a variety of cancer types.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smll.200800646

    View details for Web of Science ID 000263088700016

    View details for PubMedID 19089837

  • Tumor-targeted drug delivery and MRI contrast enhancement by chlorotoxin-conjugated iron oxide nanoparticles NANOMEDICINE Sun, C., Fang, C., Stephen, Z., Veiseh, O., Hansen, S., Lee, D., Ellenbogen, R. G., Olson, J., Zhang, M. 2008; 3 (4): 495-505


    This study examines the capabilities of an actively targeting superparamagnetic nanoparticle to specifically deliver therapeutic and MRI contrast agents to cancer cells.Iron oxide nanoparticles were synthesized and conjugated to both a chemotherapeutic agent, methotrexate, and a targeting ligand, chlorotoxin, through a poly(ethylene glycol) linker. Cytotoxicity of this nanoparticle conjugate was evaluated by Alamar Blue cell viability assays, while tumor-cell specificity was examined in vitro and in vivo by MRI.Characterization of these multifunctional nanoparticles confirms the successful attachment of both drug and targeting ligands. The targeting nanoparticle demonstrated preferential accumulation and increased cytotoxicity in tumor cells. Furthermore, prolonged retention of these nanoparticles was observed within tumors in vivo.The improved specificity, extended particle retention and increased cytotoxicity toward tumor cells demonstrated by this multifunctional nanoparticle system suggest that it possesses potential for applications in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.2217/17435889.3.4.495

    View details for Web of Science ID 000258612700015

    View details for PubMedID 18694312

  • A multimodal targeting nanoparticle for selectively labeling T cells SMALL Gunn, J., Wallen, H., Veiseh, O., Sun, C., Fang, C., Cao, J., Yee, C., Zhang, M. 2008; 4 (6): 712-715

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smll.200701103

    View details for Web of Science ID 000257549100002

    View details for PubMedID 18528851

  • Folic acid-PEG conjugated superparamagnetic nanoparticles for targeted cellular uptake and detection by MRI JOURNAL OF BIOMEDICAL MATERIALS RESEARCH PART A Sun, C., Sze, R., Zhang, M. 2006; 78A (3): 550-557


    We report the development and in vitro study of a nanoconjugate serving as a targeted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast enhancement agent for detection of cancer cells overexpressing the folate receptor. The nanoconjugate was synthesized by coating superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with covalently bound bifunctional poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), followed by conjugation with folic acid (FA). The specificity of the nanoconjugate targeting cancerous cells was demonstrated by comparative intracellular uptake of the nanoconjugate and PEG-/dextran-coated nanoparticles by human adenocarcinoma HeLa cells. Preferential targeting to cancerous cells was studied by comparing the uptake of the nanoconjugate by HeLa cells and by non-FR expressing osteosarcoma MG-63 cells. Uptake of the nanoconjugate by HeLa cells after 4 h incubation was found to be a 12-fold higher than that of PEG- or dextran-coated nanoparticles as quantified by inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy. A significant negative contrast enhancement was observed with magnetic resonance (MR) phantom imaging for HeLa cells over MG-63 cells, when both were cultured with the nanoconjugate. Specificity of the nanoconjugate for folate receptors was also verified with a competitive inhibition assay, in which HeLa cells were incubated with both NP-PEG-FA and free FA. The bifunctional PEG used has amide linkages within the PEG chains that can form interchain hydrogen bonding, leading to improved stability of the PEG coating. Self-assembled PEG can be controlled at the molecular level and are suitable for nanoscale coatings.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000239613800015

  • Methotrexate-immobilized poly(ethylene glycol) magnetic nanoparticles for MR imaging and drug delivery SMALL KOHLER, N., Sun, C., Fichtenholtz, A., Gunn, J., Fang, C., Zhang, M. Q. 2006; 2 (6): 785-792


    We report the development of a biostable methotrexate-immobilized iron oxide nanoparticle drug carrier that may potentially be used for real-time monitoring of drug delivery through magnetic resonance imaging. Methotrexate (MTX) was immobilized on the nanoparticle surface via a poly(ethylene glycol) self-assembled monolayer (PEG SAM). The cytotoxicity of the nanoparticle-drug conjugate (NP-PEG-MTX) to target cells was studied with 9L glioma cells. Cellular uptake experiments showed that the uptake of NP-PEG-MTX conjugates by glioma cells was considerably higher than that of control nanoparticles. Magnetic resonance imaging in 9L cells cultured with NP-PEG-MTX of various concentrations showed significant contrast enhancement. NP-PEG-MTX demonstrated higher cytotoxicity in 9L cells to free MTX in vitro. Leucovorin, an MTX antidote, was used to rescue the cells that had been exposed to NP-PEG-MTX or free MTX, and the experiment verified the biocompatibility of NP-PEG-MTX conjugates and the MTX on NP-PEG-MTX conjugates to be the true source of the cytotoxicity to the target cells. TEM results showed that NP-PEG-MTX conjugates were internalized into the 9L cellular cytoplasm and retained its crystal structure therein for up to 144 h, as identified by electron diffraction. This prolonged particle retention may allow physicians to image tumor cells exposed to the NP-PEG-MTX conjugate over an extended therapeutic time course.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smll.200600009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000237474900015

    View details for PubMedID 17193123

  • Methotrexate-modified superparamagnetic nanoparticles and their intracellular uptake into human cancer cells LANGMUIR KOHLER, N., Sun, C., Wang, J., Zhang, M. Q. 2005; 21 (19): 8858-8864


    A magnetic nanoparticle conjugate was developed that can potentially serve both as a contrast enhancement agent in magnetic resonance imaging and as a drug carrier in controlled drug delivery, targeted at cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. The conjugate is made of iron oxide nanoparticles covalently bound with methotrexate (MTX), a chemotherapeutic drug that can target many cancer cells whose surfaces are overexpressed by folate receptors. The nanoparticles were first surface-modified with (3-aminopropyl)trimethoxysilane to form a self-assembled monolayer and subsequently conjugated with MTX through amidation between the carboxylic acid end groups on MTX and the amine groups on the particle surface. Drug release experiments demonstrated that MTX was cleaved from the nanoparticles under low pH conditions mimicking the intracellular conditions in the lysosome. Cellular viability studies in human breast cancer cells (MCF-7) and human cervical cancer cells (HeLa) further demonstrated the effectiveness of such chemical cleavage of MTX inside the target cells through the action of intracellular enzymes. The intracellular trafficking model proposed was supported through nanoparticle uptake studies which demonstrated that cells expressing the human folate receptor internalized a higher level of nanoparticles than negative control cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/la0503451

    View details for Web of Science ID 000231789800046

    View details for PubMedID 16142971

  • Optical and MRI multifunctional nanoprobe for targeting gliomas NANO LETTERS Veiseh, O., Sun, C., Gunn, J., KOHLER, N., Gabikian, P., Lee, D., Bhattarai, N., Ellenbogen, R., Sze, R., Hallahan, A., Olson, J., Zhang, M. Q. 2005; 5 (6): 1003-1008


    A multifunctional nanoprobe capable of targeting glioma cells, detectable by both magnetic resonance imaging and fluorescence microscopy, was developed. The nanoprobe was synthesized by coating iron oxide nanoparticles with covalently bound bifunctional poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) polymer, which were subsequently functionalized with chlorotoxin and the near-infrared fluorescing molecule Cy5.5. Both MR imaging and fluorescence microscopy showed significant preferential uptake of the nanoparticle conjugates by glioma cells. Such a nanoprobe could potentially be used to image resections of glioma brain tumors in real time and to correlate preoperative diagnostic images with intraoperative pathology at cellular-level resolution.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nl0502569

    View details for Web of Science ID 000229729900002

    View details for PubMedID 15943433

  • Self-assembled coatings on individual monodisperse magnetite nanoparticles for efficient intracellular uptake BIOMEDICAL MICRODEVICES Zhang, Y., Sun, C., KOHLER, N., Zhang, M. Q. 2004; 6 (1): 33-40


    Monodispersed iron oxide superparamagnetic nanoparticles were prepared using a novel circulating system. A simple dialysis method was developed to immobilize nanoparticles with functional biopolymers and targeting agents, which avoids the use of the normal centrifugation process that may cause particle agglomeration during the coating process. To enhance the specific targeting capability of the nanoparticles, a new chemical scheme was introduced, in which folic acid (FA) was chosen as the targeting agent combined with PEG serving to improve biocompatibility of nanoparticles. The AFM characterization showed that the nanoparticles produced are well dispersed with a narrow size distribution. The FTIR and XPS spectrum analyses indicated that PEG and FA-PEG have been chemically/covalently bonded to nanoparticles using synthetic approach introduced in this study. Our biological study showed that coating nanoparticles with PEG-FA significantly enhanced the intracellular uptake of nanoparticles by target cells.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000188422700004

    View details for PubMedID 15307442

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