Probe Design for Molecular Imaging

The work in chemistry group focuses on the development of new probes for biomedical imaging and therapy. The projects range from probes for PET, ultrasound, MRI, fluorescence and photoacoustic imaging, to those for photodynamic therapy. A variety of small molecules and proteins have been indentified that can be coupled with these probes to enable targeted delivery. Targeted-delivery approach enhance the effective concentration of the probe at the site of interest and hereby improve image contrast and therapeutic efficacy.
In the development of ultrasound contrast agents, in particular, functionalizable hard-shell microbubbles with encapsulation of air, oxygen, nitrogen and other gases of interest, are pursued. The microbubbles are coated with fluorescent ligands for multimodal imaging, coupled with peptides for targeting, and carry drugs for external triggered delivery.
For MRI and Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI), ultra-small super paramaganetic iron oxides (USPIOs) are studied. For their use as injected contrast agents we have developed methods to synthesize nano-scaled USPIOs, to stabilize them, and to coat them with targeting agents. In addition, USPIO are used to label cells and tissue-engineered grafts.
In non-radiative imaging, near infrared (NIR) absorption chromophores are of interest due to the deep penetration of NIR light. Organic compounds are highly suited for this purpose owing to their favourable pharmacokinetic properties. We envisaged to develop tetrapyrrole-based NIR-chromophores, which show strong absorption/emission as well as phototoxicity useful for theranostic applications. A building block approach is devised towards the synthesis of such chromophores, which allows us to modify periphery and fine tune photo-physical and chemical properties.

Dr. rer. nat. S. Banala

Selected publications

Research Papers

  1. Jayapaul J, Hodenius M, Arns S, Lederle W, Lammers T, Comba P, Kiessling F, and Gaetjens J. FMN-coated fluorescent iron oxide nanoparticles for RCP-mediated targeting and labeling of metabolically active cancer and endothelial cells. Biomaterials. 2011;32(25):5863‑71.
  2. Liu Z, Lammers T, Ehling J, Fokong S, Bornemann J, Kiessling F, and Gätjens J. Iron oxide nanoparticle-containing microbubble composites as contrast agents for MR and ultrasound dual-modality imaging. Biomaterials. 2011;32(26):6155‑63.
  3. Hodenius M, Würth C, Jayapaul J, Wong JE, Lammers T, Gätjens J, Arns S, Mertens N, Slabu I, Ivanova G, Bornemann J, Cuyper MD, Resch-Genger U, and Kiessling F. Fluorescent magnetoliposomes as a platform technology for functional and molecular MR and optical imaging. Contrast Media Mol Imaging. 2012;7(1):59‑67.
  4. Fokong S, Theek B, Wu Z, Koczera P, Appold L, Jorge S, Resch-Genger U, van Zandvoort M, Storm G, Kiessling F, and Lammers T. Image-guided, targeted and triggered drug delivery to tumors using polymer-based microbubbles. J Control Release. 2012;163(1):75‑81.
  5. Jayapaul J, Arns S, Lederle W, Lammers T, Comba P, Gätjens J, and Kiessling F. Riboflavin carrier protein-targeted fluorescent USPIO for the assessment of vascular metabolism in tumors. Biomaterials. 2012;33(34):8822‑9.

Reviews / Perspectives

  1. Kiessling F, Huppert J, and Palmowski M. Functional and molecular ultrasound imaging: concepts and contrast agents. Curr Med Chem. 2009;16(5):627‑42.
  2. Kiessling F, Gaetjens J, and Palmowski M. Application of molecular ultrasound for imaging integrin expression. Theranostics. 2011;1:127‑34.
  3. Kiessling F, Bzyl J, Fokong S, Siepmann M, Schmitz G, and Palmowski M. Targeted ultrasound imaging of cancer: an emerging technology on its way to clinics. Curr Pharm Des. 2012;18(15):2184‑99.
  4. Kiessling F, Fokong S, Koczera P, Lederle W, and Lammers T. Ultrasound microbubbles for molecular diagnosis, therapy, and theranostics. J Nucl Med. 2012;53(3):345‑8.
  5. Kiessling F. Science to practice: genetic engineering meets cell tracking--a promising approach for cell-based therapies? Radiology. 2012;265(1):1‑3.

Group members

Felix Fuge

Felix (Dipl.-Chem., Bergische Universität Wuppertal, 2009) synthesizes and characterizes complexes for chelating radonuclides and MR contrast agents into protein- and peptide-based diagnostics. In addition, he is involved in projects focusing on the generation of DOTA-containing low-molecular-weight radiotracers for flavin-based metabolic PET imaging.


F. Fuge

Nihan Güvener

Nihan (M.Sc. in Bioengineering, Hacettepe University, 2011) works on multifunctional complexes to bind with hydrogel carriers for ex-vivo or soft-tissue targets and develops 3D visibility in MRI and CT hybrids. She is currently a Marie Curie fellow of iTERM Project (Nano4Imaging GmbH, Aachen).


N. Güvener