The base for the design of Imaging Probes for a given application is first dictated from the chosen Imaging Modality, which, in turn, is dependent upon the concentration and localisation of the target molecule. Then the Imaging Probe has to be conjugated to a specific vector which enables it with the required targeting capabilities toward a specific molecule acting as a signature of pathology. An important task is to find “universal” procedures of conjugation that work on the mildest experimental conditions.
In the development of MR-Imaging Probes, the limited sensitivity of the MRI experiment will be tackled by several approaches. Our aim is to provide the Network with Imaging Probes endowed with well defined T1 and T2 characteristics according to their targeting site and the magnetic field at which the imaging procedure is carried out.
In the context of nuclear probes, radiochemistry laboratories will develop efficient procedures for the incorporation of radio-emitting isotopes in the molecular structure of choice. This work will deal either with the set-up of rapid syntheses of organic molecules in order to produce 18F short-lived b+-emitters labelled molecules and the exploitation of coordination chemistry for the efficient entrapment of radioactive metal ions in the nuclear probes.
With optical imaging probes, work will first aim at the identification of new metal-complex based probes, and their conjugates, examining for example ratiometric emissive lanthanide systems that can be used to image selected organelles within the cell, such as the cell nucleus or the mitochondria. Such work offers also scope for the development of new therapeutic entities. An important task is the identification of suitable complexes for “in-vivo” applications exploiting the time resolved fluorescence of lanthanide (III) ions.