Imaging agents that specifically target peripheral nerves
Damage to nerves is a common side effect of surgery that can result in loss of function. Improved visualization of nerves in the operating field, for example by using florescence nerve imaging agents, would help the surgeon avoid such accidental nerve injury. Ideally, such nerve tracers need to be specific for the peripheral nervous system with little or no cross reactivity with other tissues (adipose and central nervous tissue) as this may lead to unwanted side effects. To date there are no nerve tracers in clinical application.
Research at LUMC, funded by two grants from the European Research Council, has led to the development of a peptide-based imaging agent that specifically binds to peripheral nerves. The imaging agent targets specific markers on the membrane of myelinating Schwann cells and contains a detectable fluorescent imaging label. Consequently it is suitable for use in fluorescence-guided surgery application. The imaging potential of this agent has been validated in myelin producing cells, dorsal root ganglia cultures, and in the myelin sheaths found in peripheral nerves, both ex-vivo and in vivo.
Fluorescence guided surgery could be used to prevent accidental nerve injury and to allow surgeons to preserve nerves during complex orthopaedic, cardiologic or oncologic interventions.
In addition, the imaging agents might also be of value in:
- the assessment of neuropathies that involve degeneration of myelin (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis)
- localization of nerves during nerve repairing surgery after trauma or plastic surgery
- evaluation of nerve tissue using immunohistochemistry (ex vivo application)
- protein detection methodologies in research (e.g. western blot, ELISA)
We are looking for partner(s) to license the technology to and/or to fund research into refinement and clinical translation of the technology.
Please note, header image is purely illustrative.
Source: OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology - Wikimedia Commons - 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Luris reference numberINV-027.048
PCT patent application filed