Tailor-Made Quantum Dot and Iron Oxide Based Contrast Agents for <i>in Vitro</i> and <i>in Vivo</i> Tumor Imaging

The biofunctionalization of CdSe/CdS/ZnS quantum dots and Fe<sub>3</sub>O<sub>4</sub> nanocrystals using a novel ligand system based on polyisoprene-<i>block-</i>poly(ethylene oxide) ligands is described. The synthesis includes a partial ligand exchange of the hydrophobic nanocrystals with amino-functionalized polyisoprene ligands, followed by seeded micelle formation of the diblock-copolymers in water. The resulting water-soluble quantum dots showed fluorescence quantum efficiencies in the 40 to 50% range and extraordinary fluorescence stability in the biological environment after cross-linking of the polyisoprene moiety of the ligand shell. No toxicity was detected by water-soluble tetrazolium (WST8) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) assays, even at very high nanoparticle concentrations, and almost no nonspecific cell adhesion was detected. The ligand shell was further coupled to the antigen-related cell adhesion molecule (CEACAM) specific monoclonal antibody T84.1. The so-conjugated Fe<sub>3</sub>O<sub>4</sub> nanocrystals allowed <i>in vitro</i> and <i>in vivo</i> tumor targeting by magnetic resonance imaging.