Optimized, Cost Effective X-Ray Imaging that Rivals MRI: X-Ray Spatial Frequency Heterodyne Imaging with Protein-Based “Nanobubble” Contrast Agents

Principal Investigator:

Christoph Rose-Petruck, PhD, Professor

Department of Chemistry

Brown University

Providence, RI


Brief Description:


Spatial Frequency Heterodyne Imaging (SFHI) is a novel x-ray scatter imaging technique that utilizes nanoparticle contrast agents.  Previous studies on SFHI have utilized only metal nanoparticle contrast agents such as gold.  Indeed, the use of gold and iron oxide nanoparticle contrast agents has been proven to further enhance the sensitivity of SFHI with results demonstrating that SFHI is capable of distinguishing between cancer tissue labeled with e.g., AuNPs and tissue that is unlabeled.  However, we show that nanomaterials with a much lower density are also suitable.


Our novel technology is a prepared protein-based “nanobubble” contrast agent that is comprised of protein cage architectures filled with gas.  Results show that these nanobubbles provide contrast in SFHI comparable to that of gold nanoparticles of similar size.                           


Nanobubbles can be functionalized on the outside to make them specific to target tissues in vivo.  Since the particles are gas filled, they can be loaded with a cargo such as a therapeutic agent. 


In summary, a nanobubble can be developed that


•       acts as a contrast agent – its delivery can be verified by SFHI,

•       can be functionalized to target specific tissues in the body,

•       includes a therapeutic payload for release at a target tissue, and

•       is entirely comprised of protein to be metabolized by and completely cleared from the body.


Applications include for potential use in earlier clinical diagnosis in conjunction with drug delivery and general oncology R&D.  When this technology is combined with Brown Tech ID 2093, it provides a compelling scenario for use with current x-ray machines where cost-savings without sacrificing sensitivity/specificity is desirable.




US patent application 14/692,075 is pending.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Brown Technology Innovations
350 Eddy Street - Box 1949
Providence, RI 02903
Christoph Rose-Petruck
Trevor Douglas
Danielle Rand
Masaki Uchida
© 2024. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Inteum