Our final goal is to translate our bioimaging technology to the clinic. Based on the first principles of chemistry, engineering, and biology, we have defined the relationship among the key independent variables of targeted fluorophores that dictate biodistribution and tissue-specific targeting in various animal models including mice, rats, and pigs. The specificity and sensitivity of targeted fluorophores can be achieved by specifically visualizing target tissue with superior optical properties and by avoiding nonspecific uptake in normal background tissues. Furthermore, we produced high-purity heptamethine indocyanines for large animal and human studies using cGMP-compatible processes (10 g scale; ≈ 1,000 patient doses) through facile and efficient solvent purification, without the need for column chromatography. We are currently attempting simultaneous targeting of cancerous tissue and vasculature/nerve, or cartilage/bone and vessel/nerve using dual-channel intraoperative imaging, which lays the foundation for clinical translation to image-guided surgery and longitudinal/noninvasive imaging of tissue constructs.
Our strategy on molecular imaging and targeting promotes the clinical impact of nanomedicinal drugs for the treatment of malignant tumors and other human diseases under the premise of guaranteeing safety. In this perspective, we are constructing a new academy to accommodate the rapidly evolving molecular individualized paradigm not only to control diseases by our targeted agents and drug delivery systems, but also to boost nanomedicine performance, translation, and exploitation. We have integrated and concerted efforts from clinicians, academics, pharmaceutical companies, and regulatory authorities, making numerous efforts to accelerate the translation of effective nanomedicine into the clinic by optimizing the physical and chemical properties. For improving such clinical impact, we are still moving forward in our way of eradicating diseases by designing multifunctional nanoprobes with multimodal image-guided synergistic therapy for the clinic. The pace of progress never stops. We will continue to make full use of our intelligence to create another miracle in this field.