Molecular Specific Photoacoustic Imaging and Photothermal Therapy

Life Sciences : Medical Devices

Available for licensing


  • Stanislav Emelianov, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Konstantin Sokolov, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Timothy Larson , Biomedical Engineering
  • Srivalleesha Mallidi , Biomedical Engineering

Background/unmet need

Despite enhanced understanding and the development of new therapeutic options, cancer remains a major cause of human morbidity and mortality worldwide. Early diagnosis of malignant events is the single most important factor determining survivability and long-term outcomes.

Much effort has been focused on the identification of cancer biomarkers that can be easily monitored in body fluids. However, it has been very difficult to identify soluble biomarker(s) with a high degree of specificity and selectivity for diagnosis. Therefore, invasive procedures remain the primary approach for cancer diagnosis. In general, cancer diagnosis is a separate function from the associated therapy.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have identified a new imaging methodology that could readily be linked to effective therapies. Using photo-acoustic imaging methods and targeted gold nanoparticles, researchers have enhanced imaging capabilities, with greater tissue penetration and earlier detection through visualization of targeted nanoparticles. Once imaged, photo-thermal therapy can be applied by the same equipment to ablate the tumor area. Tumor necrosis can be monitored by a combination of photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging.


  • Higher penetration depth
  • Non-ionizing imaging modality
  • Sequential monitoring of tumor necrosis during therapy
  • No or minimal additional equipment required for therapy

Market potential/applications

The U.S. medical-imaging market—including ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), radiography and mammography, and computed tomography (CT)—will be worth an estimated $11.4 billion by 2012, according to a new report by BCC Research, Medical Imaging: Equipment and Related Products. The third-largest segment, ultrasound equipment, is currently valued at $1.6 billion and is expected to grow with a CAGR of 6.9 percent to $2.3 billion in 2012.

The world market for in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests for cancer is growing at nearly 11% annually and could reach nearly $8 billion by the end of 2012, according to a new study released today by Kalorama Information.