Analogue Fluorescent Probes vs. Nanoprobes
Ideally, cancer imaging should provide a surgeon with as much information as possible on a tumor’s location, particularly during surgery. This information is obtained by representing that location with a detectable output, which requires both information and context. While an analog fluorescent probe can amplify a cancer signal, it also adds distortion, Dr. Sumer said, amplifying background noise, which can generate a false positive. “We want high sensitivity, we want high specificity, and we want to suppress the noise,” Dr. Sumer said.
Explore This IssueNovember 2019
As a co-founder, consultant, and co-inventor of patents for OncoNano Medicine, Inc., Dr. Sumer’s primary research interest is in the development of nanoparticles and nano devices for surgical applications. In a recent collaboration, Dr. Sumer and Jinming Gao, PhD, discovered what macromolecular cooperativity can do for tumor detection. “You can actually turn that pH transition into a switch where you go from a fluorescence that is off to a fluorescence that is on,” he said. “And this is very much analogous to other switches.” Their work established pH transistor nanoparticles (PTN) that have transformed tumor detection and represent a new paradigm of digitizing an analog biologic signal.
Dr. Sumer’s research may have additional applications in tumor imaging, delivery of therapeutics, and cellular targeting, and his collaboration has transitioned to whole body imaging of cancers using positron emission tomography.
“I’m very interested in using nanotechnology not just for imaging but also to gain a better understanding of tumor metabolism and its interactions with the immune system,” Dr. Sumer said.
Disclosures: As co-founder, consultant, and co-inventor of patents for OncoNano Medicine, Inc., Dr. Sumer has received stocks, stock options, consulting fees, and patent royalties. He has also received consulting fees from Intuitive, Sanofi Genzyme, Regeneron, and Cancer Expert Now.
Renée Bacher is a freelance medical writer based in Louisiana.