FDA clears nanoparticle for human cancer imaging
Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering are set to launch the first in-human clinical trial of nanoparticle C dots to render glowing PET images of melanoma.

C dots, tiny silica spheres with glowing dye, were initially developed as optical probes by material science and engineering professor Ulrich Wiesner, PhD, at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. After eight years of refinement and imaging in rats, the nanoparticles were approved by the FDA and will be administered to humans for the first time at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Nanotechnology Center in Manhattan, N.Y.

The dye in C dots enhance visualization of cancer cells by glowing, thereby allowing researchers to trace the cells’ movement and assist physicians in the diagnosis of tumors located near the skin’s surface. Using PET, the C dots can help evaluate biological properties of the tumors, including tumor accumulation, spread of metastatic disease and treatment response to therapy.

C dots can be tailored to different particle sizes and are passed through the kidneys. The researchers in this trial hope to evaluate the distribution, tissue, uptake and safety of the particles. In longer-term clinical use, researchers expect the particles to help physicians determine the extent of a tumor’s spread, map lymph node disease, define tumor borders for surgery and improve real-time visualization of small vascular beds, anatomic channels and neural structures during surgery.