Molecular Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Tumor Response to Therapy
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/srep14759
Personalized cancer medicine requires measurement of therapeutic efficacy as early as possible, which is optimally achieved by three-dimensional imaging given the heterogeneity of cancer. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can obtain images of both anatomy and cellular responses, if acquired with a molecular imaging contrast agent. The poor sensitivity of MRI has limited the development of activatable molecular MR contrast agents. To overcome this limitation of molecular MRI, a novel implementation of our caspase-3-sensitive nanoaggregation MRI (C-SNAM) contrast agent is reported. C-SNAM is triggered to self-assemble into nanoparticles in apoptotic tumor cells, and effectively amplifies molecular level changes through nanoaggregation, enhancing tissue retention and spin-lattice relaxivity. At one-tenth the current clinical dose of contrast agent, and following a single imaging session, C-SNAM MRI accurately measured the response of tumors to either metronomic chemotherapy or radiation therapy, where the degree of signal enhancement is prognostic of long-term therapeutic efficacy. Importantly, C-SNAM is inert to immune activation, permitting radiation therapy monitoring.