Development of a Multi Faceted Platform Containing a Tetrazine, Fluorophore and Chelator: Synthesis, Characterization, Radiolabeling, and Immuno-SPECT Imaging

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Background Combining optical (fluorescence) imaging with nuclear imaging has the potential to offer a powerful tool in personal health care, where nuclear imaging offers in vivo functional whole-body visualization, and the fluorescence modality may be used for image-guided tumor resection. Varying chemical strategies have been exploited to fuse both modalities into one molecular entity. When radiometals are employed in nuclear imaging, a chelator is typically inserted into the molecule to facilitate radiolabeling; the availability of the chelator further expands the potential use of these platforms for targeted radionuclide therapy if a therapeutic radiometal is employed. Herein, a novel mixed modality scaffold which contains a tetrazine (Tz)––for biomolecule conjugation, fluorophore—for optical imaging, and chelator—for radiometal incorporation, in one construct is presented. The novel platform was characterized for its fluorescence properties, radiolabeled with single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) isotope indium-111 (111In3+) and therapeutic alpha emitter actinium-225 (225Ac3+). Both radiolabels were conjugated in vitro to trans-cyclooctene (TCO)-modified trastuzumab; biodistribution and immuno-SPECT imaging of the former conjugate was assessed.Results Key to the success of the platform synthesis was incorporation of a 4,4′-dicyano-BODIPY fluorophore. The route gives access to an advanced intermediate where final chelator-incorporated compounds can be easily accessed in one step prior to radiolabeling or biomolecule conjugation. The DOTA (1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid) conjugate was prepared, displayed good fluorescence properties, and was successfully radiolabeled with 111In & 225Ac in high radiochemical yield. Both complexes were then separately conjugated in vitro to TCO modified trastuzumab through an inverse electron demand Diels–Alder (IEDDA) reaction with the Tz. Pilot small animal in vivo immuno-SPECT imaging with [111In]In-DO3A-BODIPY-Tz-TCO-trastuzumab was also conducted and exhibited high tumor uptake (21.2 ± 5.6%ID/g 6 days post-injection) with low uptake in non-target tissues.Conclusions The novel platform shows promise as a multi-modal probe for theranostic applications. In particular, access to an advanced synthetic intermediate where tailored chelators can be incorporated in the last step of synthesis expands the potential use of the scaffold to other radiometals. Future studies including validation of ex vivo fluorescence imaging and exploiting the pre-targeting approach available through the IEDDA reaction are warranted.
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