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Contrast agents for biomedical optoacoustic imaging

BiocompatibilityEndogenous chromophores/fluorophoresFunctional imagingMesoporous silica nanoparticlesPhotoacoustic imagingTechShareDay-d2w2


The innovative photoacoustic imaging (also known as optoacoustic imaging) exploits the ability of chromophores/fluorophores, duly excited by light, to emit mechanical energy in the form of ultrasounds. The ultrasounds, detected by appropriate piezoelectric, are used to generate high-resolution images capable of providing biomedical, structural and functional information on specific anatomical regions of interest.

Technical features

Some endogenous molecules are able to generate the just described signal and they are already used to obtain diagnostic information. The use of exogenous contrast agents can represent an important contribution to increasing the diagnostic potential of the technique. Of particular relevance is the possibility of using chromophores/fluorophores already developed and tested in the field of microscopy and in vivo optical imaging. To improve contrastographic performances, stability and in vivo biodistribution, these chromophores/fluorophores must be modified accordingly. This technology consists in the conjugation of mesoporous silica nanoparticles to chromophores/fluorochromes, in order to improve their performances.

Possible Applications

  • In vivo applications:
    • Early diagnosis of disease;
    • Pre-clinical applications, such as the sentinel lymph node mapping.
  • In vitro diagnostic tests.


  • High sensitivity;
  • Spatial resolution capability;
  • Simultaneously use of different molecules.