Identification of a Folate Receptor-Targeted Near-Infrared Molecular Contrast Agent to Localize Pulmonary Adenocarcinomas

Jarrod D. Predina, Andrew D. Newton, Courtney Connolly, Ashley Dunbar, Michael Baldassari, Charuhas Deshpande, Edward Cantu, Jason Stadanlick, Sumith A. Kularatne, Philip S. Low, Sunil Singhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the number one cancer killer in the United States. Despite attempted curative surgical resection, nearly 40% of patients succumb to recurrent disease. High recurrence rates may be partially explained by data suggesting that 20% of NSCLC patients harbor synchronous disease that is missed during resection. In this report, we describe the use of a novel folate receptor-targeted near-infrared contrast agent (OTL38) to improve the intraoperative localization of NSCLC during pulmonary resection. Using optical phantoms, fluorescent imaging with OTL38 was associated with less autofluorescence and greater depth of detection compared to traditional optical contrast agents. Next, in in vitro and in vivo NSCLC models, OTL38 reliably localized NSCLC models in a folate receptor-dependent manner. Before testing intraoperative molecular imaging with OTL38 in humans, folate receptor-alpha expression was confirmed to be present in 86% of pulmonary adenocarcinomas upon histopathologic review of 100 human pulmonary resection specimens. Lastly, in a human feasibility study, intraoperative molecular imaging with OTL38 accurately identified 100% of pulmonary adenocarcinomas and allowed for identification of additional subcentimeter neoplastic processes in 30% of subjects. This technology may enhance the surgeon's ability to identify NSCLC during oncologic resection and potentially improve long-term outcomes. Predina et al. explore folate receptor-targeted intraoperative molecular imaging in preclinical models and humans with non-small cell lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-403
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 7 2018


  • folate receptor alpha
  • intraoperative imaging
  • pulmonary adenocarcinoma
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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