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Synthesis of near IR D-luciferin analogues for imaging
Molecular imaging of living animals is crucial to allow understanding of complex biological processes, such as ageing, diseases and studying how therapies work for lifelong health. Bioluminescence imaging (BLI) exploits the remarkable properties of a firefly enzyme (Luciferase) to emit light whilst catalysing a substrate (Luciferin) to optically image biological events in living animals. BLI would be greatly enhanced if we could increase the wavelength of light emitted to infra red light, as mammalian tissues are almost transparent at these wavelengths. We synthesised an extended luciferin, infraluciferin, and found that it gave red shifted bioluminescence of ╬╗max 662 nm with wild type luciferase, which is competitive with the most red shifted analogues to date. In collaboration with Drs Pule and Jathoul (UCL Cancer) we have used a mutated luciferase that gives a maximum emission wavelength of ~720 nm. We are currently investigating the design an synthesis of other structural analogues of infraluciferin to create other red shifted and brighter luciferins.
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