Theranostic Agents

The possibility to guide a therapeutic treatment with imaging is an extremely interesting opportunity. A really important advance in this field was represented by the advent of MRI tomographs coupled with high frequency ultrasound systems for iperthermia localized treatments. Our activities in the files are:

  • Drug releasing liposomes

    Liposomes loaded with both MRI contrast agents and drug molecules are used. They are administered to model animals and their MRI visualization permits to quantify the number of liposomes (hence drug molecules) that are present at the site of interest. The liposomes are engineered in order to release (possibly triggered) the drug and the contrast agent. The liposomes could be further engineered in order to be a reporter of the therapeutic efficacy of the drug. To reach this goal, both Gd and CEST MRI probes will be used.

  • Neutron Capture Therapy and Imaging

    The Neutron Capture Therapy (NCT) approach is of great interest mostly for brain tumors, and is based on the ability of a number of nuclei (among them 10B) to absorb neutrons to start a nuclear reaction that causes the destruction of the cells. The success of the treatment is dependent on the quantity of active compound that reaches the ill cell, with respect to the quantity that distributes among vases and healthy cells. To this goal B and Gd containing probes are synthesized; from the MRI images it is possible to know the concentration of Gd and then calculate that of B. The probes contain carboranes, Gd complexes and a vector to drive them to the target of interest. It is worth noting that Gd exists in a form ( 157Gd) that is sensible to neutron capture, and its presence in the probe represents a strengthening of the therapeutic action.

  • Controlled Gd release systems

    It is well known that the free Gd 3+ion is really toxic; for this reason, it is used in the MRI applications only complexed in extremely stable compounds. This line of activity exploits the cytotoxicity of Gd 3+by allowing the ion to be released in a controlled way at the site of interest. We are now considering probes that can recognise targets on the tumoral cells and then release the Gd 3+inside the cell. In order to reduce the systemic toxicity of the metal ion, the probe is engineered to be deactivated (with respect to the release of Gd 3+) shortly after reaching its target.

Group Leaders:

Enzo Terreno Simonetta Geninatti Juan Carlos Cutrin