Background: Multidrug resistance (MDR) is defined as a cross-resistance of cancer cells to various chemotherapeutics and has been demonstrated to correlate with drug efflux pumps. Visualization of drug efflux pumps is useful to pre-select patients who may be insensitive to chemotherapy, thus preventing patients from unnecessary treatment. Near infrared (NIR) imaging is an attractive approach to monitoring MDR due to its low tissue autofluorescence and deep tissue penetration. Molecular NIR imaging of MDR cancers requires stable probes targeting biomarkers with high specificity and affinity.
Objective: This article aims to provide a concise review of novel NIR probes and their applications in MDR cancer treatment.
Results: Recently, extensive research has been performed to develop novel NIR probes and several strategies display great promise. These strategies include chemical conjugation between NIR dyes and ligands targeting MDR-associated biomarkers, native NIR dyes with inherent targeting ability, activatable NIR probes as well as NIR dyes loaded nanoparticles. Moreover, NIR probes have been widely employed for photothermal and photodynamic therapy in cancer treatment, which combine with other modalities to overcome MDR. With the rapid advancing of nanotechnology , various nanoparticles are incorporated with NIR dyes to provide multifunctional platforms for controlled drug delivery and combined therapy to combat MDR. The construction of these probes for MDR cancers targeted NIR imaging and phototherapy will be discussed. Multimodal nanoscale platform which integrates MDR monitoring and combined therapy will also be encompassed.
Conclusion: We believe these NIR probes project a promising approach for diagnosis and therapy of MDR cancers, thus holding great potential to reach clinical settings in cancer treatment.