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Single- and two-photon imaging of human micrometastases and disseminated tumour cells with conjugates of nanobodies and quantum dots

Abstract : Early detection of malignant tumours and, especially, micrometastases and disseminated tumour cells is still a challenge. In order to implement highly sensitive diagnostic tools we demonstrate the use of nanoprobes engineered from nanobodies (single-domain antibodies, sdAbs) and fluorescent quantum dots (QDs) for single-and two-photon detection and imaging of human micrometastases and disseminated tumour cells in ex vivo biological samples of breast and pancreatic metastatic tumour mouse models expressing human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) or carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). By staining thin (5–10 µm) paraffin and thick (50 µm) agarose tissue sections, we detected HER2-and CEA-positive human tumour cells infiltrating the surrounding tissues or metastasizing to different organs, including the brain, testis, lung, liver, and lymph nodes. Compared to conventional fluorescently labelled antibodies the sdAb-HER2-QD and sdAb-CEA-QD nanoprobes are superior in detecting micrometastases in tissue sections by lower photobleaching and higher brightness of fluorescence signals ensuring much better discrimination of positive signals versus background. Very high two-photon absorption cross-sections of QDs and small size of the nanoprobes ensure efficient imaging of thick tissue sections unattainable with conventional fluorescent probes. The nanobody–QD probes will help to improve early cancer diagnosis and prognosis of progression by assessing metastasis.
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Fernanda Ramos-Gomes, Julia Bode, Alyona Sukhanova, Svetlana Bozrova, Mara Saccomano, et al.. Single- and two-photon imaging of human micrometastases and disseminated tumour cells with conjugates of nanobodies and quantum dots. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2018, 8 (1), pp.4595. ⟨10.1038/s41598-018-22973-8⟩. ⟨hal-01765351⟩

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