Wiley Interdiscip Rev Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2013 Mar-Apr;5(2):163-79. Epub 2013 Jan 17.
Departments of Chemistry and Biology, Center for Diagnostics & Therapeutics, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of disease biomarkers, especially cancer biomarkers, could potentially improve our understanding of the disease and drug activity during preclinical and clinical drug treatment and patient stratification. MRI contrast agents with high relaxivity and targeting capability to tumor biomarkers are highly required. Extensive work has been done to develop MRI contrast agents. However, only a few limited literatures report that protein residues can function as ligands to bind Gd(3+) with high binding affinity, selectivity, and relaxivity. In this paper, we focus on reporting our current progress on designing a novel class of protein-based Gd(3+) MRI contrast agents (ProCAs) equipped with several desirable capabilities for in vivo application of MRI of tumor biomarkers. We will first discuss our strategy for improving the relaxivity by a novel protein-based design. We then discuss the effect of increased relaxivity of ProCAs on improving the detection limits for MRI contrast agent, especially for in vivo application. We will further report our efforts to improve in vivo imaging capability and our achievement in molecular imaging of cancer biomarkers with potential preclinical and clinical applications.