2D inks for imaging cell therapies

Challenge we’re trying to solve

Cell therapy demonstrates great potential for the treatment of many diseases. A major challenge to develop cell therapies has been the inability to effectively monitor the location and distribution of potentially therapeutic cells in animals and humans following delivery.

Preclinically, reagents to track therapeutic cells would be useful for cell therapy pharmacology, biodistribution and tumorigenicity studies in animals. Clinically, such reagents would allow physicians to monitor the successful delivery of cells post-treatment to ensure they were administered to the appropriate location. Additionally, the status of the cells could be monitored overtime to assess their potential clearance and provide an indication if/when re-treatment is necessary.

The label should be long lasting and inert, so that it does not change the properties of the cells and their potential functions or affect the properties of the surrounding tissues.

How we approached it

Researchers from Professor Cinzia Casiraghi’s Lab have designed graphene-based 2D (G2D) inks to label and non-invasively track cell populations administered in cell therapy. The G2D inks will be fabricated to offer multiple signals relevant to biomedical imaging.

Who was involved

The preclinical testing of these inks is being led by the Nanomedicine Lab. Dr Sandra Vranic has used cell-based assays to show that these inks are biocompatible and safe on exposure and internalization within mammalian cells. Tissue distribution and pharmacokinetic studies using preclinical models, utilizing the dynamic imaging facilities (SPECT-CT) and optical imaging system (IVIS) have shown that there are signals to be harnessed for tracking purposes. These studies have been led by our expert dedicated Imaging Scientist Dr Dhifaf Jasim. Next steps include assessing the pharmacology of these inks. in in vivo using preclinical models.


The design, synthesis and production of the G2D inks, led by Prof Cinzia Casiraghi, is now at the stage where multiple G2D inks have been developed, each with unique properties.