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      Tumor-specific detection of an optically targeted antibody combined with a quencher-conjugated neutravidin "quencher-chaser": a dual "quench and chase" strategy to improve target to nontarget ratios for molecular imaging of cancer.

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          In vivo molecular cancer imaging with monoclonal antibodies has great potential not only for cancer detection, but also for cancer characterization. However, the prolonged retention of intravenously injected antibody in the blood causes low target tumor-to-background ratio (TBR). Avidin has been used as a "chase" to clear the unbound, circulating biotinylated antibody and decrease the background signal. Here, we utilize a combined approach of a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) quenched antibody with an "avidin chase" to increase TBR. Trastuzumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody against human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2), was biotinylated and conjugated with the near-infrared (NIR) fluorophore Alexa680 to synthesize Tra-Alexa680-biotin. Next, the FRET quencher, QSY-21, was conjugated to avidin, neutravidin (nAv), or streptavidin (sAv), thus creating Av-QSY21, nAv-QSY21, or sAv-QSY21 as "chasers". The fluorescence was quenched in vitro by binding Tra-Alexa680-biotin to Av-QSY21, nAv-QSY21, or sAv-QSY21. To evaluate if the injection of quencher-conjugated avidin derivatives can improve target TBR by using a dual "quench and chase" strategy, both target (3T3/HER2+) and nontarget (Balb3T3/ZsGreen) tumor-bearing mice were employed. The "FRET quench" effect induced by all the QSY21 avidin-based conjugates reduced but did not totally eliminate background signal from the blood pool. The addition of nAv-QSY21 administration increased target TBR mainly because of the "chase" effect where unbound conjugated antibody was preferentially cleared to the liver. The relatively slow clearance of unbound nAv-QSY21 leads to further reductions in background signal by leaking out of the vascular space and binding to unbound antibodies in the extravascular space of tumors, resulting in decreased nontarget tumor-to-background ratios but increased target TBR due to the "FRET quench" effect, because target-bound antibodies were internalized and could not bind to nAv-QSY21. In conclusion, the proposed "quench-and-chase" system combines two strategies, fluorescent quenching and avidin chasing, to improve target TBR and reduce nontarget TBR, which should result in both improved tumor sensitivity and improved specificity.

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          Author and article information

          Bioconjug. Chem.
          Bioconjugate chemistry
          American Chemical Society (ACS)
          Jan 2009
          : 20
          : 1
          [1 ] Molecular Imaging Program, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1088, USA.
          10.1021/bc8003765 NIHMS161160


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