Novel Second Generation Fluorescent Dyes For In Vivo Nerve-specific Imaging

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Technology Summary

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have developed a second generation of novel, nerve-specific fluorescent dyes for diagnostic use in image-guided surgery. The fluorophores can be administered directly to the surgical site or intravenously for the precise visual identification of nerves. 


Technology Overview

During surgical procedures, nerve identification can become challenging when the normal location, appearance, or physical properties of the nerve is changed, for example due to prior or acute trauma, previous surgery, anatomical anomalies, or radiation therapy. Importantly, there is no clinically approved technology to enhance a surgeon’s visual recognition of critical peripheral nerves during surgery and injury to these structures can lead to post-surgical complications and decreased quality of life. This, along with the increase in the number of minimally invasive robotic surgeries, underscores the pressing need to develop imaging agents that distinctly label peripheral nerves.


The nerve-specific fluorophores developed by Dr. Gibbs and her colleagues are unique in that they are suitable for imaging in the near-infrared (NIR) region (650-900 nm).  Fluorescence in this range is advantageous as minimal light scatter and absorbance allows for better tissue penetration, compared to white light, thereby facilitating visualization of buried nerves.  Moreover, the nerve-specific fluorophores are equally effective when administered directly on the tissue, or systemically via intravenous injection.  As none of the pre-clinical nerve-specific fluorophores that currently exist absorb or emit in the NIR region, the development of these fluorophores addresses a significant unmet need. OHSU’s second generation novel NIR nerve-specific fluorophores are even further red shifted than the first generation dyes developed by Dr. Gibbs and her team (OHSU tech 2475).


Intellectual Property

Patent Application Filed


Licensing Opportunity

This technology is available for exclusive licensing and/or collaborative co-development.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Anne Carlson
Assoc Dir, Tech Dev & Licensing
Oregon Health & Science University
Summer Dowell (Gibbs)
Lei Wang
Connor Barth
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