Surgery remains the only potentially curative treatment option for pancreatic cancer, but resections are made more difficult by infiltrative disease, proximity of critical vasculature, peritumoral inflammation, and dense stroma. Surgeons are limited to tactile and visual cues to differentiate cancerous tissue from normal tissue. Furthermore, translating preoperative images to the intraoperative setting poses additional challenges for tumor detection, and can result in undetected and unresected lesions. Thus, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has high rates of incomplete resections, and subsequently, disease recurrence. Fluorescence-guided surgery (FGS) has emerged as a method to improve intraoperative detection of cancer and ultimately improve surgical outcomes. Initial clinical trials have demonstrated feasibility of FGS for PDAC, but there are limited targeted probes under investigation for this disease, highlighting the need for development of additional novel biomarkers to reflect the PDAC heterogeneity. MUCIN16 (MUC16) is a glycoprotein that is overexpressed in 60-80% of PDAC. In our previous work, we developed a MUC16-targeted murine antibody near-infrared conjugate, termed AR9.6-IRDye800, that showed efficacy in detecting pancreatic cancer. To build on the translational potential of this imaging probe, a humanized variant of the AR9.6 fluorescent conjugate was developed and investigated herein. This conjugate, termed huAR9.6-IRDye800, showed equivalent binding properties to its murine counterpart. Using an optimized dye:protein ratio of 1:1, in vivo studies demonstrated high tumor to background ratios in MUC16-expressing tumor models, and delineation of tumors in a patient-derived xenograft model. Safety, biodistribution, and toxicity studies were conducted. These studies demonstrated that huAR9.6-IRDye800 was safe, did not yield evidence of histological toxicity, and was well tolerated in vivo. The results from this work suggest that AR9.6-IRDye800 is an efficacious and safe imaging agent for identifying pancreatic cancer intraoperatively through fluorescence-guided surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3586-3599
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 3 2022


  • Fluorescence-guided surgery
  • MUCIN16
  • antibody
  • near-infrared fluorescence
  • pancreatic cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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