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Cancer diagnosisFTIR analysisGlucose transportersInfrared imagingoncology


An in vitro and ex vivo method that uses new diagnostic probes having a specific spectra detected by infrared (IR) spectroscopy. The innovative probes were properly designed to exploit certain peculiarities of pathologic tissues, such as increased glucose uptake or over-expression of some membrane components.
The compounds resulted to be highly stable and easy to handle, compared to radiodiagnostic probes, which are commonly used in conventional techniques.

Technical features

The diagnosis and characterization of cancer pathologies are mainly focused on the use of radioactive markers, such as fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) in PET. FDG, a radioactive analogue of glucose, profits from the peculiar metabolism of most tumors, which rapidly incorporate large amounts of glucose so that they are visible in PET. This technique, although widely used in in vivo imaging, is less suitable for more routine applications, such as solid or liquid biopsies, due to the short half-life (~2 hours) of fluorine radionuclide (18F). The invention consists of the innovative development and use of molecular probes containing 1) a portion recognized by specific effectors over-expressed by cancer cells, such as GLUTs, and 2) a “probe” absorbing in the IR transparency window of cells (1800-2200 cm-1), consisting of a cyclopentadienyl-rhenium(I) tricarbonyl complex.  The chemical entities are stable in aqueous biological media and have intense absorption bands in the 1900-2100 cm-1 zone, making them suitable for IR imaging of cells and tumor tissues.

Possible Applications

  • In vitro and ex vivo imaging;
  • Early-stage cancer detection;
  • Cancer cells identification in samples derived from solid or liquid biopsy;
  • FTIR imaging to diagnose the molecular differences between normal and diseased tissues.


  • Simple synthetic process;
  • Absence of cautions in production and handling, necessary instead for the production of radiopharmaceuticals;
  • Compound stability in aqueous solutions;
  • Rapid, cost-effective and ease of application;
  • Suitable for long-range delivery.