Open Access
Using molecular beacons for cancer imaging and treatment
Klara Stefflova1,Juan Chen1,Gang Zheng1
Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA
DOI: 10.2741/2420 Volume 12 Issue 12, pp.4709-4721
Published: 01 May 2007
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular imaging of biomarkers)

Molecular beacons are essentially all probes that illuminate particular cellular target or cells with similar characteristics. In this review we focus on those molecular beacons that use near-infrared fluorescence imaging (NIRF-I) to identify the unique cellular and metabolic markers characteristic of cancer. They employ various delivery and activation pathways, selectively or specifically targeting proliferating and immortal cancer cells. These beacons can either be used in an imaging step separate from therapy or they can intimately connect these two steps into a single process. Matching cancer therapy to NIRF-I is photodynamic therapy (PDT) that uses the light-triggered phototoxic properties of some porphyrin-based dyes. Guided by beacon's restored fluorescence, the PDT laser could be focused on affected sites, killing the cancer cells using the enhanced photoactivity of the same beacon. Or vice versa-the restored fluorescence from the cleaved beacon could be used as an indication of the beacon's own therapeutic success, imaging the post-PDT apoptotic cells.

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Klara Stefflova, Juan Chen, Gang Zheng. Using molecular beacons for cancer imaging and treatment. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 2007. 12(12); 4709-4721.