Theranostics 2017; 7(18):4410-4423. doi:10.7150/thno.21283 This issue

Research Paper

A Laser-Activated Biocompatible Theranostic Nanoagent for Targeted Multimodal Imaging and Photothermal Therapy

Liming Deng1, Xiaojun Cai 2, Danli Sheng1, Yang Yang1, Eric M. Strohm3, Zhigang Wang1, Haitao Ran1, Dong Wang4, Yuanyi Zheng1, Pan Li1, Tingting Shang1, Yi Ling1, Fengjuan Wang1, Yang Sun1,✉

1. Institute of Ultrasound Imaging & Department of Ultrasound, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University; Chongqing Key Laboratory of Ultrasound Molecular Imaging, 400010 Chongqing P. R. China;
2. State Key Laboratory of High Performance Ceramics and Superfine Microstructure, Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, Chinese Academy of Sciences 200050, Shanghai, P. R. China;
3. Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto M5S 2E8, Canada;
4. Department of Ultrasound, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, 400016 Chongqing P. R. China.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Deng L, Cai X, Sheng D, Yang Y, Strohm EM, Wang Z, Ran H, Wang D, Zheng Y, Li P, Shang T, Ling Y, Wang F, Sun Y. A Laser-Activated Biocompatible Theranostic Nanoagent for Targeted Multimodal Imaging and Photothermal Therapy. Theranostics 2017; 7(18):4410-4423. doi:10.7150/thno.21283. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Multifunctional nanoparticles have been reported for cancer detection and treatment currently. However, the accurate diagnosis and efficient treatment for tumors are still not satisfied. Here we report on the development of targeted phase change multimodal polymeric nanoparticles for the imaging and treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer.

Methods: We evaluated the multimodal imaging capabilities of the prepared nanoparticles in vitro using agar-based phantoms. The targeting performance and cytotoxicity of the nanoparticles were examined in cell culture using SKBR3 (over-expressing HER2) and MDA-MB-231 (HER2 negative) cells. We then tested the magnetic resonance (MR)/ photoacoustic (PA)/ ultrasound (US)/ near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) multimodal imaging properties and photothermal effect of the nanoparticles in vivo using a SKBR3 breast xenograft model in nude mice. Tissue histopathology and immunofluorescence were also conducted.

Results: Both in vitro and in vivo systematical studies validated that the hybrid nanoparticles can be used as a superb MR/US/PA/NIRF contrast agent to simultaneously diagnose and guide tumor photothermal therapy (PTT). When irradiated by a near infrared laser, the liquid PFP vaporizes to a gas, rapidly expelling the contents and damaging surrounding tissues. The resulting micro-sized bubbles provide treatment validation through ultrasound imaging. Localization of DIR and SPIO in the tumor region facilitate photothermal therapy for targeted tumor destruction. The mice treated with HER2 targeted nanoparticles had a nearly complete response to treatment, while the controls showed continued tumor growth.

Conclusion: This novel theranostic agent may provide better diagnostic imaging and therapeutic potential than current methods for treating HER2-positive breast cancer.

Keywords: multimodality imaging, phase transformation, HER2, theranostic, photothermal therapy