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Imaging Agents that Specifically Target Peripheral Nerves


Damage to nerves is a common side effect or 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 an 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.

Technology Overview

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. This is suitable for use in a 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 allow surgeons to preserve nerves during complex orthopedic, cardiologic or oncologic interventions.


We are looking for partner (s) to license the technology to and / or to fund research into refinement and clinical translation of the technology.

Keywords: surgery, image guided surgery, imaging, nerves, pharmaceutical industry, biotech / medical companies

Key benefits

  •  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

Luris reference number


Patent status

PCT patent application filed

Further information

Roisin Holmes Business Developer +31-6-3831 0850