Nanoparticles as contrast agents for in-vivo bioimaging: current status and future perspectives
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- Hahn, M.A., Singh, A.K., Sharma, P. et al. Anal Bioanal Chem (2011) 399: 3. doi:10.1007/s00216-010-4207-5
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Nanoparticle-based contrast agents are quickly becoming valuable and potentially transformative tools for enhancing medical diagnostics for a wide range of in-vivo imaging modalities. Compared with conventional molecular-scale contrast agents, nanoparticles (NPs) promise improved abilities for in-vivo detection and potentially enhanced targeting efficiencies through longer engineered circulation times, designed clearance pathways, and multimeric binding capacities. However, NP contrast agents are not without issues. Difficulties in minimizing batch-to-batch variations and problems with identifying and characterizing key physicochemical properties that define the in-vivo fate and transport of NPs are significant barriers to the introduction of new NP materials as clinical contrast agents. This manuscript reviews the development and application of nanoparticles and their future potential to advance current and emerging clinical bioimaging techniques. A focus is placed on the application of solid, phase-separated materials, for example metals and metal oxides, and their specific application as contrast agents for in-vivo near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT), ultrasound (US), and photoacoustic imaging (PAI). Clinical and preclinical applications of NPs are identified for a broad spectrum of imaging applications, with commentaries on the future promise of these materials. Emerging technologies, for example multifunctional and theranostic NPs, and their potential for clinical advances are also discussed.