Synthesis of new multimodal chemical entities for medical imaging

Head researcher: Sara M.A. Pinto

Research Area: Medicinal Chemistry


Non-invasive visual representation, characterization and quantification at the molecular level of fundamental biological processes in intact living organisms through molecular imaging (MI) offers potential for early detection and treatment of many conditions, including cancers.

All MI procedures require a specific imaging probe for the event under study, and are based on different imaging techniques, including the clinically used CT (computed tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), nuclear medicine (PET – Positron Emission Tomography; SPECT – Single-photon Emission Computed Tomography), and preclinical optical methodologies (FI – Fluorescence Imaging).

Albeit the progress, each technique holds different characteristics regarding spatial resolution, time of acquisition, tissue contrast and cost. In order to synergize the best properties of each technique, we believe that the use of a chemical entity based on N-ligands (porphyrins, phthalocyanines, cyclen), combing all the main features of each imaging modality may be the solution to obtain more sensitive contrast agents for early cancer diagnosis.

Selected Publications

  • A Biocompatible Redox MRI Probe Based on a Mn(II)/Mn(III) Porphyrin, Sara M. A. Pinto, Mário J. F. Calvete, Mariana E. Ghica, Sérgio Soler, Iluminada Gallardo, Agnès Pallier, Mariana B. Laranjo, Ana M.S. Cardoso, M. Margarida C. A. Castro, Christopher M.A. Brett, Mariette M. Pereira, Éva Tóth, Carlos F. G. C. Geraldes, Dalton Trans., 2019, 48, 3249-3262. DOI: 10.1039/C8DT04775H.
  • Metal coordinated pyrrole-based macrocycles s contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging technologies: Synthesis and applications, Mário J. F. Calvete, Sara M. A. Pinto, Mariette M. Pereira, Carlos F.G.C. Geraldes, Coord. Chem. Rev., 2017, 333, 82-107. DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2016.11.011.
  • Synthesis of a new 18F labeled porphyrin for potential application in positron emission tomography. In vivo imaging and cellular uptake, Ana V. C. Simões, Sara M.A. Pinto, Mário J. F. Calvete, Célia M. F. Gomes, Nuno C. Ferreira, Miguel Castelo-Branco, Jordi Llop, Mariette M. Pereira, Antero J. Abrunhosa, RSC Adv., 2015, 5, 99540-99546. DOI: 10.1039/c5ra16103g.