Near-infrared fluorescent nanoprobes for cancer molecular imaging: status and challenges

Trends Mol Med. 2010 Dec;16(12):574-83. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2010.08.006. Epub 2010 Oct 1.


Near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging promises to improve cancer imaging and management; advances in nanomaterials allow scientists to combine new nanoparticles with NIRF imaging techniques, thereby fulfilling this promise. Here, we present a synopsis of current developments in NIRF nanoprobes, their use in imaging small living subjects, their pharmacokinetics and toxicity, and finally their integration into multimodal imaging strategies. We also discuss challenges impeding the clinical translation of NIRF nanoprobes for molecular imaging of cancer. Whereas utilization of most NIRF nanoprobes remains at a proof-of-principle stage, optimizing the impact of nanomedicine in cancer patient diagnosis and management will probably be realized through persistent interdisciplinary amalgamation of diverse research fields.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fluorescent Dyes / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Molecular Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Nanoparticles* / adverse effects
  • Nanotechnology / instrumentation
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / instrumentation*


  • Fluorescent Dyes