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Multimodal nanoparticle imaging agents: Design and applications

Burke, Benjamin P.; Cawthorne, Christopher; Archibald, Stephen J.


Benjamin P. Burke

Christopher Cawthorne


Molecular imaging, where the location of molecules or nanoscale constructs can be tracked in the body to report on disease or biochemical processes, is rapidly expanding to include combined modality or multimodal imaging. No single imaging technique can offer the optimum combination of properties (e.g. resolution, sensitivity, cost, availability). The rapid technological advances in hardware to scan patients, and software to process and fuse images, are pushing the boundaries of novel medical imaging approaches, and hand-in-hand with this is the requirement for advanced and specific multimodal imaging agents. These agents can be detected using a selection from radioisotope, magnetic resonance and optical imaging, among others. Nanoparticles offer great scope in this area as they lend themselves, via facile modification procedures, to act as multifunctional constructs. They have relevance as therapeutics and drug delivery agents that can be tracked by molecular imaging techniques with the particular development of applications in optically guided surgery and as radiosensitizers. There has been a huge amount of research work to produce nanoconstructs for imaging, and the parameters for successful clinical translation and validation of therapeutic applications are now becoming much better understood. It is an exciting time of progress for these agents as their potential is closer to being realized with translation into the clinic. The coming 5–10 years will be critical, as we will see if the predicted improvement in clinical outcomes becomes a reality. Some of the latest advances in combination modality agents are selected and the progression pathway to clinical trials analysed. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Challenges for chemistry in molecular imaging’.


Burke, B. P., Cawthorne, C., & Archibald, S. J. (2017). Multimodal nanoparticle imaging agents: Design and applications. Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences, 375(2107), 20170261.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Sep 4, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 16, 2017
Publication Date Nov 28, 2017
Deposit Date Aug 8, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Print ISSN 1364-503X
Electronic ISSN 1471-2962
Publisher The Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 375
Issue 2107
Article Number 20170261
Pages 20170261
Keywords MRI; Molecular imaging; Optical; SPECT; PET; Nanoparticle
Public URL
Publisher URL


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