Probing tumour growth through infrared imaging

by | Jul 10, 2015

Tumour development is closely monitored through infrared emission from copolymer nanoparticles.

A group of scientists from Singapore has developed a new tool to closely and non-invasively monitor tumour growth in vivo by using fluorescent conjugated polymer nanoparticles.

The efficacy of cancer treatment can be tremendously enhanced with a thorough characterisation of tumours. In many cases, however, obtaining precise information on their features is not an easy task.

In a study published in Issue 5 of Advanced Science, researchers from Singapore unveil a promising technique to gather information on tumour size both in vitro and in vivo, for long periods of time.

Tumour tracking nanoparticles as presented by Liu et al. in issue 5 of Advanced Science.

Tumour tracking nanoparticles as presented by Liu et al. in Issue 5 of Advanced Science.

Jie Liu, Kai Li, and Bin Liu present the design and synthesis of a conjugated polymer exhibiting fluorescence with strong emission on the far-red/infrared region.  These nanoparticles are shown to be biocompatible and stable, permitting their use in long-term in vivo imaging.

The authors created a polymer with alternating electron-deficient and electron-rich units, in a bid to boost intramolecular charge transfer to be observed in long wavelengths. The nanoparticles where also conjugated with a cell penetrating peptide, a trans-activating transcriptional activator from the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1).

The study first describes the use of the conjugated polymer nanoparticles to track liver cancer cells in vitro, successfully detecting them over 8 days. Further, cancer cells marked with the nanoparticles were transplanted into live mice and, for as long as 27 days, the researchers were able to monitor tumour growth in real-time through the emission of the fluorescent probes. Both results are stronger than already available solutions such as quantum dots.

The use of the newly designed nanoparticles can disclose more information about the development of tumours, thus improving the chances of successfully and more effectively treating cancer patients.

Advanced Science is a new journal from the team behind Advanced Materials, Advanced Functional Materials, and Small. The journal is fully Open Access and is free to read now at

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