Theranostic radioiodine-labelled melanin nanoparticles inspired by clinical brachytherapy seeds
Radioiodine is widely used in nuclear medicine, mainly serving as a tracer and therapeutic agent, and benefits from its various radioactive isotopes of iodine including I-123, I-124, I-125, I-131 and so on. Melanin is a natural material widely dispersed in the human skin, hair and eyes. The excellent biocompatibility and multifunctional abilities of melanin make it a perfect carrier for biomedical applications. Here, we fabricated theranostic radioiodine-labelled melanin nanoparticles (MNPs) through a novel Ag–I two-step method. The Ag–I labelling method for MNP radioiodine-labelling has advantages including a faster labelling time, higher labelling yield, and higher stability than the chloramine-T oxidation method reported previously. The obtained MNP–Ag–131I can be used for both single-photon emission computed tomography and Cherenkov radiation imaging. The β-rays of 131I also make it a good candidate as a cancer cell killer. The theranostic properties of this nanoparticle were also proved in a xenograft tumor model in vivo. In summary, this study provides a new concept for radioiodine labelling nanoparticles, which can be further investigated in various imaging and radiotherapy applications with different radioactive isotopes of iodine.