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Near Infrared Technology and Optical Agents For Molecular Imaging

luorescent proteins. In addition, NIR optical imaging has a further advantage in that it has the potential to translate into the clinic. Several NIR imaging ins-truments for use on humans are currently under development. De Grand and Frangioni have described a prototype NIR optical imaging system for use with NIR fluoro c h rome-labeled optical agents in non-inva s i ve intraoperative imaging procedures12. The authors envision the system being eventually used for imageguided cancer resection with real-time assessment of surgical margins, sentinel lymph node mapping, and intraoperative mapping of normal and tumor vasculature. Furthermore, Gurfinkel et al. , Hawrysz and Sevick-Muraca, and Chen et al. , have described NIRbased imaging instruments directed at the early detection of breast cancer3, 13, 14. These instruments potentially could be used for guiding fine needle biopsies and sentinel lymph node monitoring during surgery.

There are several biological barriers that should be taken into consideration when using NIR dye - labeled optical probes. The probe must be able to reach its target in sufficient concentration and with sufficient binding affinity that it can be imaged. In this respect, optical probes are similar to a pharmaceutical agent in that considerations of absorption, distribution, metabolism, exc retion, and tox i c i t y need to be evaluated. In addition to non-specific binding, trapping, rapid excretion, and metabolic effects, there are delivery barriers to be overcome. For example, the size and characteristics of the dye labeled ligand may prevent it from crossing the blood-brain barrier. However, the combination of an NIR labeling agent such as IRDye 800CW and NIRbased imaging instruments used for both small animal and clinical imaging has the potential to provide both good spatial resolution and sensitive detection of targeted molecule
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