Novel Fluorescent Dyes for In Vivo Nerve-Specific Imaging

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Technology Summary

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have developed novel, small molecule near infrared (NIR) nerve-specific fluorophores for diagnostic use in fluorescence-guided surgery. The fluorophores can be administered directly to the surgical site or intravenously for the precise visualization of nerves during surgical procedures, thus enabling surgeons to identify and safeguard these vital structures.


Technology Overview

Injury of critical peripheral nerves during surgery is a devastating occurrence with potentially lifelong, deleterious ramifications for the affected patient’s quality of life.  Notably, there is no clinically approved technology to enhance a surgeon’s visual recognition of nerve tissue during surgery.  Moreover, the rise of robotic surgical procedures has increased the number of minimally invasive surgeries and the risk of injury to peripheral nerves.  Thus, there is a pressing need to develop nerve-specific imaging agents that distinctly label these anatomical structures.

The nerve-specific fluorophores developed by Dr. Gibbs and her colleagues are unique in that they are suitable for imaging in the NIR region (650-900 nm).  This property facilitates visualization of buried nerves due to improved light penetration in tissues in the NIR region, and enables maximum nerve-to-surrounding tissue contrast as endogenous tissue chromophore absorbance, scattering and autofluorescence are all minimized.  Moreover, the nerve-specific fluorophores are equally effective when administered in a local fashion directly on the tissue, or systemically via intravenous injection.  None of the pre-clinical nerve-specific fluorophores that currently exist absorb or emit in the NIR region. OHSU’s novel NIR nerve-specific fluorophores therefore represent a significant advance over existing nerve-specific imaging agents.


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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