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Tracking disease sources with light

NSF Award:

CAREER: Luminescent Lanthanide Probes for Biological Imaging of Metal Ions  (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)

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Detecting molecules involved in disease development and cancer can help determine why the condition or cancer began and can aid in the creation of effective therapies. Researchers have developed systems to image important diagnostic targets or disease markers and have designed imaging agents that can be detected using two complementary imaging methods: magnetic resonance imaging and fluorescence microscopy.

Recently, a group at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities developed novel chemosensors to monitor the biological molecule ATP (adenosine triphosphate) that transports energy in the body and is used in many biological processes such as cancer. The luminescent probes selectively interact with the desired target causing a change in the intensity of emitted light. 

The researchers designed, synthesized and evaluated the probes in their chemistry laboratories and then tested them to see if they are selective for the ATP molecule. Monitoring this biological target can be used to rapidly screen many potential drugs. The imaging agents are designed to function in the body or biological samples. 

Images (1 of )

  • an undergraduate synthesizes a luminescent probe for iron and iron enzymes
  • a graduate student displays a luminescent probe that reveals oxidative stress
Hannah Skopec synthesizes a luminescent probe.
Valerie C. Pierre, University of Minnesota
Katie Peterson holds a luminescent probe that can reveal oxidative stress.
Valerie C. Pierre, University of Minnesota

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