DIOR project to join efforts of NRNU MEPhI and ITMO University, participants in the program for enhancing the competitiveness of Russian universities, in developing novel diagnostic systems for malignant tumors

The project on Diagnosis and Imaging of Oncological Diseases Using Resonance Energy Transfer in Immune Complexes of Single-Domain and Full-Size Antibodies (DIOR) submitted by Professor Igor Nabiev together with researchers of the Laboratory of Nano-Bioengineering (LNBE) of NRNU MEPhI and ITMO University has won the ITMO University's open competition of interdisciplinary research projects.

The competition was organized in the framework of the plan of measures for enhancing competitiveness of the St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics, and Optics (ITMO) among the world's leading research and education centers for the period 2013–2020 (the 5-100 Program). A total of 20 projects submitted by both ITMO researchers and research groups from other organizations were assessed, the main criteria being the project's contribution to solving major problems in socially important areas, the interdisciplinary nature of the project, and the "quality" of the project research team representing at least two laboratories of ITMO University or other research centers.

The goal of the DIOR project is the development and preclinical validation of next-generation imaging tools providing a substantial gain in the sensitivity and specificity of breast and lung cancer diagnoses compared to the state-of-the-art photonic methods.

The project's authors chose to address this issue because of the high social importance of cancer diagnosis, especially early diagnosis and detection of metastases. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death throughout the world; in Russia alone, there are more than three million registered cancer patients. At the same time, although breast and lung cancers are the most common malignant tumors, their treatment is often successful provided they are diagnosed at early stages.

The DIOR project is aimed at solving this very task, to increase both sensitivity and specificity of lung and breast cancer diagnoses. The project combines three innovative technologies:

(1) The multishell quantum dot technology providing a considerable gain in brightness compared to organic fluorophores, which are currently used for this purpose

(2) The technology of single-domain antibodies obtained from camelid (llama) blood immunoglobulins, which have a unique structure; these antibodies are 13 times smaller than full-size antibodies and can be bound to quantum dots in a highly oriented manner

(3) Innovative photonic technologies based on nonradiative energy transfer within the immune complex detecting a cancer marker upon multiphoton excitation of the quantum-dot photoluminescence in the IR spectral region. The possibility to use this spectral range—the "transparency window" of living tissues—is ensured by a large multiphoton absorption cross-section of quantum dots and is expected to increase the sensitivity by a factor of at least ten due to the absence of the background tissue autofluorescence

The win of the DIOR project further confirms the leading positions of LNBE and NRNU MEPhI in biomedicine, and it is not an overestimation to say that its implementation will make it possible to save many lives.


Maria G. Korenkova, director of external relations (MGKorenkova@mephi.ru)

Laboratory of Nano-Bioengineering, Moscow Engineering Physics Institute
31 Kashirskoe shosse, 115409 Moscow, Russian Federation

© 2012 Laboratory of Nano-BioEngineering