Let sleeping horses lie to image cells

CARDIFF U. (UK) — Getting drugs or imaging agents into cells via a Trojan horse to improve medical imaging works better if the horse is sleeping.

Medical imaging often requires the difficult task of getting unnatural materials such as metal ions into cells. The Trojan horse attaches drugs or imaging agents to something naturally taken up by cells.

The new findings resolve some difficulties involved in transporting metal ions into cells.

The sleeping Trojan horse is not itself taken up by cells so doesn’t interfere with natural functions until it is “woken” by the addition of the metal ions, minimizing unwanted uptake and need for time-consuming purification associated with the common Trojan Horse technique.

Details of the study are reported in the journal Chemical Communications.

“The sleeping Trojan horse process happens rapidly, and the vessel is capable of carrying metals which have positron-emitting isotopes, so it has potential for use in bimodal fluorescence and PET imaging,” says Mike Coogan, senior lecturer in synthetic chemistry at Cardiff University.

Combined agents for these types of imaging are known but rare, Coogan says, so this is a significant development in the field.

“There is also additional potential for use in radiotherapy as the metal-bearing form not only enters cells but also localizes in the nucleolus.

In principle, the concept could also be used to improve delivery of a huge range of drugs and imaging agents into cells or the body.”

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