Development of New Atomic-Based EPR Spin Probes Summary/Abstract The use of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) methods in medicine is a rapidly advancing field. There has been significant progress in the past decade, and EPR may soon be used to guide the treatment of cancer, strokes, and conditions where it is crucial to make non-invasive measurements of oxygenation and hypoxia. However, further improvements to increase its sensitivity to detect radicals generated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) would make it applicable to a wider range of diseases. A key component of the biomedical EPR system is the spin probe, the fundamental chemical agent necessary to detect paramagnetic radicals. However, current spin probes have limitations. For example, the current generation of spin probes are not sensitive enough to directly detect or image the in vivo generation of reactive oxygen species in age related disorders or diseases mediated by ROS such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. To overcome these limitations, we propose to investigate new spin probes based upon paramagnetic atoms encapsulated in fullerene cages. Atoms containing unpaired electrons, such as atomic nitrogen pinned at the center of the symmetric C60 cage, are completely protected from reaction with external species and produce unprecedented narrow line widths. For example, N@C60 has one of the narrowest known EPR line widths, giving it a detection efficiency 100 to 1000 times better than the current compounds. In addition to protecting the encapsulated atom, the fullerene cage can interact with radical species, and reactions occurring on the surface of N@C60 produce measurable shifts in its EPR spectrum. Such features, along with proven biological compatibility, make fullerene-encapsulated atoms ideal spin probes. N@C60 epitomizes the ideal spin probe, but research on it is currently hindered by difficulties in producing and purifying it in bulk. However, atomic N is not the only possible choice for fullerene encapsulation. We have examined alternative atoms that will have similar EPR properties, but will be far easier to produce commercially.
The specific aim of this project is to synthesize and characterize the most promising of these candidates and demonstrate that it can form the basis for a new type of EPR spin probe with many advantages over the current compounds.
Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) is an emerging technique similar to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that has the potential to help diagnose and guide the treatment of diseases such as cancer, stroke, and other conditions involving disruption of reactive oxygen species (ROS) homeostasis. EPR relies upon molecular agents called spin probes to interact with nearby oxygen or reactive oxygen radicals to generate a detectable signal. However, new compounds with higher sensitivity are needed to improve EPR technology and allow it to be used for more diseases. To remove the limitations inherent to current spin probes, we propose to investigate new types of spin probes based upon paramagnetic atoms encapsulated in C60 fullerenes that will have higher sensitivity in their ability to detect reactive oxygen species. The development of new spin probes that allow in vivo detection of ROS produced, for example, by Parkinson's and other ROS diseases would represent a significant advance in biomedical EPR technology.