Heng Xu

National Cancer Institute (USA), Maryland, United States

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Publications (10)42.8 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Imaging of the lymphatic system is critical in preoperative planning of resections of complex lymphatic malformations. However, safe, effective imaging methods with sufficient resolution to identify the lymphatics have been lacking. In this study, we demonstrate the use of gadolinium-labeled dendrimers to image the lymphatics in small and large animal models during magnetic resonance lymphangiography. Polyamidoamine G6-Gd_1B4M_N-hydroxysuccinimide was synthesized and administered intradermally in the extremities of normal mice and pigs at several doses. The lymphatics were well demonstrated in both animal models and there was rapid uptake in the deep lymphatic system, including the thoracic duct. A significant dose reduction was achieved (1 µmol Gd/kg) in the 35-kg pig compared with mice, while still producing excellent results. No toxicity was observed and only minor inflammatory changes were observed at the injection site 30 days later. We demonstrate that a low dose of a macromolecular magnetic resonance contrast agent can provide rapid imaging of the deep lymphatic system in both small and large animals. This data provides a basis to consider a similar agent in clinical trials.
    Nanomedicine 10/2010; 5(8):1183-91. · 5.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, we report a new method to prepare and characterize a contrast agent based on a fourth-generation (G4) polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimer conjugated to the gadolinium complex of the bifunctional diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid derivative (1B4M-DTPA). The method involves preforming the metal-ligand chelate in alcohol prior to conjugation to the dendrimer. The dendrimer-based agent was purified by a Sephadex G-25 column and characterized by elemental analysis. The analysis and SE-HPLC data gave a chelate to dendrimer ratio of 30:1 suggesting conjugation at approximately every other amine terminal on the dendrimer. Molar relaxivity of the agent measured at pH 7.4 displayed a higher value than that of the analogous G4 dendrimer based agent prepared by the postmetal incorporation method (r(1) = 26.9 vs 13.9 mM(-1) s(-1) at 3 T and 22 degrees C). This is hypothesized to be due to the higher hydrophobicity of this conjugate and the lack of available charged carboxylate groups from noncomplexed free ligands that might coordinate to the metal and thus also reduce water exchange sites. Additionally, the distribution populations of compounds that result from the postmetal incorporation route are eliminated from the current product simplifying characterization as quality control issues pertaining to the production of such agents for clinical use as MR contrast agents. In vivo imaging in mice showed a reasonably fast clearance (t(1/2) = 24 min) suggesting a viable agent for use in clinical application.
    Bioconjugate Chemistry 07/2009; 20(7):1412-8. · 4.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Two novel imaging agents trastuzumab-Cy5.5-CHX-A''1 and cetuximab-Cy7-CHX-A''2, bearing both a chelating moiety (CHX-A'') for sequestering metallic radionuclides ((86)Y or (111)In) and the near infrared dye Cy5.5/Cy7, were prepared by a novel modular synthetic strategy as examples of dual-labeled, antibody-based imaging probe library. Fluorescent microscopy illustrated that 1 and 2 strongly bind to HER2-expressing cancer cells (e.g., NIH3T3-HER2(+), SKOV-3) and to EGFR-expressing cancer cells (e.g., A431), respectively, thereby demonstrating that the functionality of the targeting moiety is conserved. Hence, the described novel synthesis strategy can be applied to engineer other tumor-targeted monoclonal antibody based probes for multimodality imaging.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 06/2009; 17(14):5176-81. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A novel alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone peptide analog CHX-A''-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH, which targeted the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1-R) overexpressed on melanoma cells, was investigated for its biodistribution and tumor imaging properties. The metal bifunctional chelator CHX-A'' was conjugated to the melanoma targeting peptide (Arg(11))CCMSH and cyclized by Re incorporation to yield CHX-A''-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH. CHX-A''-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH was labeled with (111)In, (86)Y and (68)Ga, and the radiolabeled peptides were examined in B16/F1 melanoma-bearing mice for their pharmacokinetic as well as their tumor targeting properties using small animal SPECT and PET. The radiolabeling efficiencies of the (111)In-, (86)Y- and (68)Ga-labeled CHX-A''-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH peptides were >95%, resulting in specific activities of 4.44, 3.7 and 1.85 MBq/microg, respectively. Tumor uptake of the (111)In-, (86)Y- and (68)Ga-labeled peptides was rapid with 4.17+/-0.94, 4.68+/-1.02 and 2.68+/-0.69 %ID/g present in the tumors 2 h postinjection, respectively. Disappearance of radioactivity from the normal organs and tissues was rapid with the exception of the kidneys. Melanoma tumors were imaged with all three radiolabeled peptides 2 h postinjection. MC1-R-specific uptake was confirmed by competitive receptor blocking studies. Melanoma tumor uptake and imaging was exhibited by the (111)In-, (86)Y- and (68)Ga-labeled Re(Arg(11))CCMSH peptides, although the tumor uptake was moderated by low specific activity. The facile radiolabeling properties of CHX-A''-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH allow it to be employed as a melanoma imaging agent with little or no purification after (111)In, (86)Y and (68)Ga labeling.
    Nuclear Medicine and Biology 05/2009; 36(4):345-54. · 2.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The increased use of copper radioisotopes in radiopharmaceutical applications has created a need for bifunctional chelators (BFCs) that form stable radiocopper complexes and allow covalent attachment to biological molecules. Previous studies have established that 4,11-bis-(carbo- tert-butoxymethyl)-1,4,8,11-tetraazabicyclo[6.6.2]hexadecane (H 2CB-TE2A), a member of the ethylene "cross-bridged" cyclam (CB-cyclam) class of bicyclic tetraaza macrocycles, forms highly kinetically stable complexes with Cu(II) and is less susceptible to in vivo transchelation than its nonbridged analogue, 1,4,8,11-tetraazacyclotetradecane-1,4,8,11-tetraacetic acid (TETA). Herein, we report a convenient synthesis of a novel cross-bridged BFC that is structurally analogous to CB-TE2A in that it possesses two coordinating acetate arms, but in addition possesses a third orthogonally protected arm for conjugation to peptides and other targeting agents. Application of this strategy to cross-bridged chelators may also enable the development of even further improved agents for (64)Cu-mediated diagnostic positron emission tomography (PET) imaging as well as for targeted radiotherapeutic applications.
    Bioconjugate Chemistry 08/2008; 19(7):1476-84. · 4.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Affibody molecules are a new class of small targeting proteins based on a common three-helix bundle structure. Affibody molecules binding a desired target may be selected using phage-display technology. An Affibody molecule Z HER2:342 binding with subnanomolar affinity to the tumor antigen HER2 has recently been developed for radionuclide imaging in vivo. Introduction of a single cysteine into the cysteine-free Affibody scaffold provides a unique thiol group for site-specific labeling of recombinant Affibody molecules. The recently developed maleimido-CHX-A'' DTPA was site-specifically conjugated at the C-terminal cysteine of Z HER2:2395-C, a variant of Z HER2:342, providing a homogeneous conjugate with a dissociation constant of 56 pM. The yield of labeling with (111)In was >99% after 10 min at room temperature. In vitro cell tests demonstrated specific binding of (111)In-CHX-A'' DTPA-Z 2395-C to HER2-expressing cell-line SKOV-3 and good cellular retention of radioactivity. In normal mice, the conjugate demonstrated rapid clearance from all nonspecific organs except kidney. In mice bearing SKOV-3 xenografts, the tumor uptake of (111)In-CHX-A'' DTPA-Z 2395-C was 17.3 +/- 4.8% IA/g and the tumor-to-blood ratio 86 +/- 46 (4 h postinjection). HER2-expressing xenografts were clearly visualized 1 h postinjection. In conclusion, coupling of maleimido-CHX-A'' DTPA to cysteine-containing Affibody molecules provides a well-defined uniform conjugate, which can be rapidly labeled at room temperature and provides high-contrast imaging of molecular targets in vivo.
    Bioconjugate Chemistry 07/2008; 19(8):1579-87. · 4.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A novel bifunctional maleimido CHX-A'' DTPA chelator 5 was developed and conjugated to the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin) and subsequently radiolabeled with (111)In. The resulting (111)In labeled immunoconjugate 2 was demonstrated to bind to SKOV-3 ovarian cancer cells comparably to an isothiocyanato CHX-A'' DTPA modified native trastuzumab, 1. Through efficient thiol-maleimide chemistry, antibodies, peptides or other targeting vectors can now be modified with an established radioactive metal chelating agent CHX-A'' DTPA for imaging and/or therapies of cancer.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 05/2008; 18(8):2679-83. · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A novel lysine-based trifunctional chelate 3 was designed, synthesized, and characterized and bears both a chelating moiety (CHX-A' ') for sequestering radiometals (86Y or 111In) and the near-infrared dye Cy5.5 for dual modality PET (or SPECT) and fluorescence imaging, respectively. Successful conjugation of 3 to the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin) was achieved by efficient thiol-maleimide chemistry, thereby yielding immunoconjugate 2. Analysis of 2 by flow cytometry and competitive binding assay demonstrates that immunoconjugate 2 binds to SKOV3 tumor cells comparably to native trastuzumab and, thus, may be used as a tumor-targeted monoclonal antibody probe for multimodality imaging.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 10/2007; 50(19):4759-65. · 5.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Two different fourth-generation (G4) polyaminonamido dendrimer-based magnetic resonsance (MR) agents were prepared by a new synthetic approach wherein tert-butyl-protected forms of 2-(4-isothiocyanatobenzyl)-6-methyldiethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (1B4M-DTPA), bearing either an isothiocyanate or a succinimidyl ester moiety, respectively, were conjugated to the primary amines of the dendrimer. Purification was facilitated using a solid phase, N-(2-aminoethyl)aminomethyl polystyrene. After Gd(III) incorporation, molar relaxivity measurements of both new dendrimer-based agents as compared to a G4 agent prepared by an aqueous chemistry route indicated no significant changes in relaxivity. Comparative MR imaging revealed equivalent enhancement of the vessels and organs such as the kidney and liver, although slightly different vascular clearance rates were observed. This general synthesis provides a procedure for preparation of dendrimer-based MR agents for clinical applications with higher yields and efficiency while enhancing versatility. The latter aspect is further demonstrated by preparation of a novel maleimide analog of 1B4M-DTPA from a key synthetic intermediate aniline derivative.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 08/2007; 50(14):3185-93. · 5.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A novel approach for the preparation of a biotinylated dendrimer-based MRI agent 5 is described, in which a unique disulfide bond in the core of the Gd(III)-1B4M-DTPA chelated G2 PAMAM dendrimer was reduced and then attached to a maleimide-functionalized biotin. The new MRI agent 5 features a well-defined dendron structure and a unique biotin functionality. Immobilization of up to four copies of biotinylated dendrimer 5 to fluorescently labeled avidin yields a supramolecular avidin-biotin-dendrimer-Gd(III) complex. Validation of the complex in mice bearing ovarian cancer tumors demonstrates that the avidin-biotin-dendrimer targeting system efficiently targets and delivers sufficient amounts of chelated Gd(III) and fluorophores (e.g., Rhodamine green) to ovarian tumors to produce visible changes in the tumors by both MRI and optical imaging, respectively. Thus, the avidin-biotin-dendrimer complex may be used as a tumor-targeted probe for dual-modality magnetic resonance and fluorescence imaging.
    Bioconjugate Chemistry 18(5):1474-82. · 4.58 Impact Factor