Functionalized bismuth ferrite harmonic nanoparticles for cancer cells labelling and imaging
Bismuth ferrite (BFO) harmonic nanoparticles (NPs) display high nonlinear optical efficiency and excellent biocompatibility profile which make them attractive for the development of diagnostic applications as contrast agents. In this study, we present a general method for the functionalization of this material with chemical ligands targeting cancer molecular biomarkers. In particular, a conjugation protocol based on click reaction between alkynyl containing targeting ligands and poly(ethylene glycol) coated BFO NPs (67.7 nm) displaying surface reactive azido groups was developed. Copper-free click reaction allowed fast and efficient conjugation of a covalent inhibitor of prolyl-specific endopeptidases to coated BFO NPs. The ability of these functionalized nanomaterials (134.2 nm) to act as imaging probes for cancer cells was demonstrated by the selective labelling of human lung cancer cells.