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Scientists developed a small-molecular probe for pulmonary fibrosis
Update time: 2020-01-10
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Pulmonary fibrosis (PF), a chronic and serious disease, is rare but of high mortality. Its etiology may be recognized or not, with the latter case called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The risk of IPF increases with age, and its 5-year survival rate is worse than many common cancers. There are currently only two drugs approved by FDA for the treatment of IPF, but it remains unclear if these drugs can increase survival or only improve symptoms.

While it remains incurable, early diagnosis of the disease can help slow down its progression. Unfortunately, early diagnosis of PF represents a major diagnostic challenge due to its non-specific symptoms. This challenge highlights the urgency to develop a simple and reliable early diagnosis for PF. Fluorescence molecular imaging has the major advantage of being non-radioactive while fulfills in vivo non-invasive or minimally invasive imaging. However, few fluorescent probes have been developed for PF imaging.

LI Jia’s group from Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, focus on pathology of fibrosis and innovative drug discovery. They worked with LI Xin’s group (College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Zhejiang University) and Dr Qi Chen (Department of Pulmonology, Shuguang Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine) to develop fluorescent probes for detecting PF. By rational design in combination of library screening, a small fluorogenic probe, PNO1 was developed with high promise for early diagnosis of PF. PNO1 can detect primary cells, tissues, and live mice with bleomycin-induced fibrosis. It is even translational to clinical lung fibrosis tissues, yielding high disease-to-normal contrast imaging results. This study was recently published on Analytical Chemistry.

These results, together with minimally invasive and highly affordable nature, highlight PNO1 as a complement to the traditional methods for PF diagnosis and facilitate quick screening for anti-PF drug candidates.

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundations of China; Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province, China; Shanghai Science and Technology Development Funds; National Science & Technology Major Project "Key New Drug Creation and Maufacturing Program"; Shanghai Key Laboratory of Traditional Chinese Clinical Medicine.

Link to the article:

Figure legends: (A) Schematic illustration of the study performed in this manuscript. (B) The whole body and the lung organs from BLM-injured group showed much stronger fluorescence than the control group. (C-E) The pathological sections from PF-diseased patients showed dramatic PNO1 fluorescence.

Figure source:
Figure editor: Ying Dong
Contact: Yi Zang,;


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