Researchers uncover fluorescent dye with short-wave infrared capabilities

Researchers at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have uncovered the efficacy of an already-FDA-approved dye in achieving short-wave infrared imaging, according to a report issued this month.

Short-wave infrared (SWIR) wavelengths—or those greater than 1,000 nanometers—have been proven to produce clearer, more accurate images, according to the report. But even if SWIR wavelengths can supersede the abilities of the traditional, near-infrared spectrum, there are no FDA-approved fluorescence dyes that have peak emission in the SWIR range.

The researchers found their answer in indocyanine green (ICG), a dye that fluoresces most strongly around 800 nanometers, in the near-infrared range. Once injected, ICG flows through the bloodstream, allowing for effortless angiography at SWIR standards.

“What we found is that this dye, which has been approved since 1959, is really the best, the brightest fluorophore that we know of at this point for imaging in the short-wave infrared,” Moungi Bawendi, an MIT contributor to the project, said. “Now clinicians can start to try short-wave imaging for their applications because they already have a fluorophore which is approved for use in humans.”

The researchers said they believe the discovery will allow physicians to image the dye with a camera and easily image blood vessels and body tissues for diagnosis and research.

Read the full report below: