Intraoperative near-infrared fluorescence imaging targeting folate receptors identifies lung cancer in a large-animal model

Jane J. Keating, Jeffrey J. Runge, Sunil Singhal, Sarah Nims, Ollin Venegas, Amy C. Durham, Gary Swain, Shuming Nie, Philip S. Low, David E. Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Complete tumor resection is the most important predictor of patient survival with non–small cell lung cancer. Methods for intraoperative margin assessment after lung cancer excision are lacking. This study evaluated near-infrared (NIR) intraoperative imaging with a folate-targeted molecular contrast agent (OTL0038) for the localization of primary lung adenocarcinomas, lymph node sampling, and margin assessment. METHODS: Ten dogs with lung cancer underwent either video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery or open thoracotomy and tumor excision after an intravenous injection of OTL0038. Lungs were imaged with an NIR imaging device both in vivo and ex vivo. The wound bed was re-imaged for retained fluorescence suspicious for positive tumor margins. The tumor signal-to-background ratio (SBR) was measured in all cases. Next, 3 human patients were enrolled in a proof-of-principle study. Tumor fluorescence was measured both in situ and ex vivo. RESULTS: All canine tumors fluoresced in situ (mean Fluoptics SBR, 5.2 [range, 2.7-8.1]; mean Karl Storz SBR 1.9 [range, 1.4-2.6]). In addition, the fluorescence was consistent with tumor margins on pathology. Three positive lymph nodes were discovered with NIR imaging. Also, a positive retained tumor margin was discovered upon NIR imaging of the wound bed. Human pulmonary adenocarcinomas were also fluorescent both in situ and ex vivo (mean SBR, > 2.0). CONCLUSIONS: NIR imaging can identify lung cancer in a large-animal model. In addition, NIR imaging can discriminate lymph nodes harboring cancer cells and also bring attention to a positive tumor margin. In humans, pulmonary adenocarcinomas fluoresce after the injection of the targeted contrast agent. Cancer 2017;123:1051–60.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1060
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2017


  • imaging
  • intraoperative
  • lung cancer
  • molecular
  • near-infrared

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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