Novel Class of pH Responsive and Renal Clearable Tumor Imaging Agents


Non-Confidential Description:

The technology is a novel class of pH responsive luminescent gold nanoparticles that are renal clearable and that selectively bind to cells in an acidic environment such as tumor cells. An advantage of these novel pH responsive nanoparticles is that they can be used to specifically target the acidic microenvironment of tumor cells irrespective of tumor type and can be used as imaging probes for early diagnosis of tumors.  


The recent use of multifunctional gold nanoparticles that combine imaging and therapeutic applications have transformed cancer detection & treatment methods. Cientifica reported that, in 2011, gold nanoparticles accounted for 959 million dollars of the 1.7 billion dollar medical imaging market and forecast that medical imaging will continue to be the highest growing application in the nanotechnology diagnostic market in 2021.


However, the use of nanoparticles as in vivo imaging agents or therapeutic agents is limited by the fact that they do not efficiently target the affected area and the toxicity to non-targeted areas is compounded by their accumulation due to inefficient clearing from the body.


The invented technology addresses these limitations by synthesizing renal clearable, luminescent gold nanoparticles that specifically target the acidic microenvironment of tumors and only minimally accumulate in non-targeted organs. These fluorescent nanoparticles can also be very easily visualized using standard fluorescence methods for the noninvasive diagnosis of tumors, for pre and post-operative imaging to ensure complete surgical resection of the tumors and for tumor microenvironment targeted photodynamic therapy.


Potential Benefits:

·         Non-invasive

Non-invasive tumor imaging

·         Target specificity

Selective pH responsive accumulation in tumors

·         Renal clearable

Fluorescent nanoparticles efficiently clear from non-targeted organs

·         Reduced toxicity

Due to the specific accumulation in tumor environments, systemic toxicity is reduced




Potential Applications:

·         Diagnostic & Prognostic

Can be used for tumor diagnosis and can be used to monitor tumor size in response to treatment

·         Therapeutic

Targeted photodynamic therapy of tumors; delivery of therapeutics to tumors

·         Research tool

Bioassays; can be used to label cells in a pH responsive manner 


IP Status: Patent Pending. 


Luminescent gold nanoparticles with pH-dependent membrane adsorption. Mengxiao Yu, Chen Zhou, Jinbin Liu, Julia D. Hankins, and Jie Zheng. J Am Chem Soc. 2011 July 27; 133(29): 11014–11017.


Jie Zheng , Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Texas, Dallas



ID Number: [MP –11-035]


Licensing Opportunity: This technology is available for exclusive or non-exclusive licensing.




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