Multiscale BerEp4 molecular imaging of microtumor phantoms: Toward theranostics for basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common cancer in humans, appears macroscopically and microscopically similar to many other skin lesions, which makes differential diagnosis difficult. We are developing an approach for quantitative molecular imaging of BerEP4, a transmembrane biomarker for BCC, with the goal of increasing the precision and accuracy of diagnosis. This pilot study was conducted to assess the affinity and selectivity of BerEp4 antibody and assess its possible use in designing theranostic probes for BCC. We provide evidence that our photon-counting fluorescence macrodetection system can recover specific signal increases from a film/pellet phantom. Additionally, we show that a two-photon excited fluorescence /backscatter confocal microscopy system can image BerEP4 antibody/antigen complex on the surface of BerEP4-expressing cancer cells in three dimensions. Based on the initial results, BerEP4 seems to be a promising biomarker for molecular imaging of BCC. To prepare BerEP4 for eventual theranostic use, we examined the feasibility of a combined macro-/micro-optical approach to imaging BCC with various histologies. These optical methods, endowed with the ability to monitor treatment in real time, may open an opportunity for noninvasive diagnosis, treatments, and follow-up.