A Near-IR Fluorescent Dasatinib Derivative That Localizes in Cancer Cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • Kinase inhibitors (KIs) have had a huge impact on clinical treatment of various cancers, but they are far from perfect medicines. In particular, their efficacies are limited to certain cancer types and, in many cases, provide only temporary remission. This paper explores the possibility of covalently binding a fluorophore for in vivo optical imaging to the KI dasatinib where the particular fluorophore chosen for this study, a heptamethine cyanine (Cy) derivative, tends to accumulate in tumors. Thus, we hypothesized that the dasatinib-fluorophore conjugate might target tumor cells more effectively than the parent KI, give enhanced suppression of viability, and simultaneously serve as a probe for optical imaging. As far as we are aware, the dasatinib conjugate (1) is the first reported to contain this KI and a probe for near-IR imaging, and it is certainly the first conjugate of a tumor-targeting near-IR dye and a KI of any kind. Conjugate 1 suppressed the viability of liver cancer cells (HepG2) more effectively than dasatinib at the same concentration. In scratch assays, 1 prevented regrowth of the tumor cells. Conjugate 1 is cell permeable, and confocal imaging indicates the fluorescence of those cells is concentrated in the mitochondria than lysosomes. In general, this study suggests there is untapped potential for conjugates of KIs with tumor-targeting near-IR dyes in the development of theranostics for optical imaging and treatment of cancer.

published proceedings

  • Bioconjug Chem

author list (cited authors)

  • Usama, S. M., Zhao, B., & Burgess, K.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • Usama, Syed Muhammad||Zhao, Bosheng||Burgess, Kevin

publication date

  • April 2019