Emil T. Hofman Professor of Science, Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Notre Dame
Bradley Smith’s laboratory in Chemistry and Biochemistry is developing molecular probes for imaging and therapy. The researchers have developed novel fluorescent probes for in vitro and in vivo optical imaging. The probes are designed for maximum penetration of near-infrared light through tissue. Structurally the probes are composed of two components, a very bright organic fluorophore that is attached to a targeting ligand.
A major ongoing project is to develop new fluorescence imaging methods that can accelerate pre-clinical studies of cancer in animal models. The cancer targeting probes may eventually be employed in humans for fluorescence guided surgery and rapid pathology, where the goal is to facilitate surgical navigation to find the cancerous tissue and also to confirm that complete resection of the tissue has been achieved (i.e., no cancer tissue remains after surgery).
A second project aims to develop new methods of treating cancer using photothermal therapy. In short, living subjects are dosed with molecular or nanoparticle probes that are designed to accumulate in tumors. The probes also contain a chromophore that absorbs 800 nm near-infrared light and creates a site of nanoscale heating that can be identified using high resolution, whole body imaging. Once a tumor has been located, a focused laser beam is employed to achieve localized hyperthermia and tumor ablation.