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Second near-infrared (NIR) window light (950-1400 nm) is attractive for in vivo fluorescence imaging due to its deep penetration depth in tissues and low tissue autofluorescence. Here we show genetically engineered multifunctional M13 phage can assemble fluorescent single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and ligands for targeted fluorescence imaging of tumors. M13-SWNT probe is detectable in deep tissues even at a low dosage of 2 mu g/mL and up to 2.5 cm in tissue-like phantoms. Moreover, targeted probes show specific and up to 4-fold improved uptake in prostate specific membrane antigen positive prostate tumors compared to control nontargeted probes. This M13 phage-based second NIR window fluorescence imaging probe has great potential for specific detection and therapy monitoring of hard-to-detect areas.
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