Remotely Triggered Nanocarrier for Imaging and Therapy Applications

Nanotechnologies : Life Science Apps

Available for licensing


  • Stanislav Emelianov, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Katheryne Wilson, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Kimberly Homan, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering

Background/unmet need

As the need for cost-effective disease detection and diagnosis grows, nanoparticles that can act as multifunctional carries for imaging contrast and therapy agents provide unique solutions. The described invention is a nanocarrier that enables non-invasive diagnosis and treatment of diseased tissue.

Invention Description

Researchers have created an injectable, biocompatible nanocarrier that is multifaceted. The exterior of the nanocarrier is coated with targeting molecules that help facilitate their accumulation in a targeted tissue. Once accumulated, among many other possibilities, the nanocarrier can provide optically triggered or radiofrequency controlled drug release. Furthermore, the nanocarrier can be used to facilitate vessel occlusion therapy, photothermal therapy, and microwave ablation therapy. Simultaneously, the nanocarrier acts an imaging contrast agent for combined photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging, optical coherence tomography, and other optical imaging methods, including the potential to allow for continuous wave photoacoustic imaging.

This technology also has the potential to be used with other imaging methods, including magnetic resonance imaging and magnetomotive imaging. The remote triggering of this nanocarrier is critical for its functionality, both as an imaging contrast agent and a form of therapy. In other words, the system remains inert in the body until specifically triggered by a clinician. Furthermore, this agent is nano scale (less than one micron), biocompatible, and has a shelf life of six months or more.


  • Imaging contrast enhancement for ultrasound, photoacoustic, magnetomotive, optical coherence tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging
  • Potential for use in computed tomography and nuclear imaging modalities
  • Therapeutic functions include drug delivery, photothermal therapy, and microwave ablation therapy.
  • Designed for multiple simultaneous applications, both diagnostic and therapeutic


  • Nano-scale size
  • Biocompatible
  • Long shelf life
  • Facile preparation
  • Remains inert in the body until remotely triggered

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 by Kalorama Information.

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status