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OHSU # 2579 — Adipose-specific fluorescent dyes for in vivo imaging


Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have developed novel adipose-specific fluorescent dyes for use in image-guided surgery of anatomical structures, such as nerves, that are surrounded by adipose tissue. The generated fluorophores exhibit reduced nerve accumulation, and demonstrate higher adipose-to-nerve and adipose-to-muscle contrast than existing adipose-selective dyes. 

Technology Overview

The identification of normal and diseased tissues during surgical procedures is largely dependent upon a surgeon’s experience and skill level.  However, surgeries can become challenging when the normal location, appearance, or physical properties of anatomical structures, such as nerves, is altered.  Although the specific labeling of nerves would aid in their identification, many existing nerve-specific fluorophores also accumulate in adipose tissues, making it difficult to distinguish between the two different tissues.  Thus, there is a need to develop fluorophores that are adipose-specific with minimal nerve accumulation.

A novel Nile Red derivative generated by Dr. Gibbs and her team exhibits adipose-specific contrast and decreased nerve accumulation, as compared to the parent Nile Red compound. Notably, in vivo tissue staining and ratiometric imaging using this derivative demonstrates improved adipose-to-nerve and adipose-to-muscle contrast, compared to Nile Red. This novel adipose-specific fluorophore could be used in combination with existing nerve-specific fluorophores in ratiometric imaging to enhance nerve-specific fluorescent contrast during fluorescence-guided surgery. 


Korber et al., Nile Red derivatives enable improved ratiometric imaging for nerve-specific contrast. J Biomed Opt. 2018 Jul;23(7):1-13. Link 

Licensing Opportunity

This technology is available for exclusive licensing and/or collaborative co-development.



Filed United States
Published United States WO 2019/210190
Published United States US 2021/0115000 A1