Tumor-targeted fluorescence labeling systems for cancer diagnosis and treatment

Hiroshi Tazawa, Kunitoshi Shigeyasu, Kazuhiro Noma, Shunsuke Kagawa, Fuminori Sakurai, Hiroyuki Mizuguchi, Hisataka Kobayashi, Takeshi Imamura, Toshiyoshi Fujiwara

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Conventional imaging techniques are available for clinical identification of tumor sites. However, detecting metastatic tumor cells that are spreading from primary tumor sites using conventional imaging techniques remains difficult. In contrast, fluorescence-based labeling systems are useful tools for detecting tumor cells at the single-cell level in cancer research. The ability to detect fluorescent-labeled tumor cells enables investigations of the biodistribution of tumor cells for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. For example, the presence of fluorescent tumor cells in the peripheral blood of cancer patients is a predictive biomarker for early diagnosis of distant metastasis. The elimination of fluorescent tumor cells without damaging normal tissues is ideal for minimally invasive treatment of cancer. To capture fluorescent tumor cells within normal tissues, however, tumor-specific activated target molecules are needed. This review focuses on recent advances in tumor-targeted fluorescence labeling systems, in which indirect reporter labeling using tumor-specific promoters is applied to fluorescence labeling of tumor cells for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Telomerase promoter-dependent fluorescence labeling using replication-competent viral vectors produces fluorescent proteins that can be used to detect and eliminate telomerase-positive tumor cells. Tissue-specific promoter-dependent fluorescence labeling enables identification of specific tumor cells. Vimentin promoter-dependent fluorescence labeling is a useful tool for identifying tumor cells that undergo epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). The evaluation of tumor cells undergoing EMT is important for accurately assessing metastatic potential. Thus, tumor-targeted fluorescence labeling systems represent novel platforms that enable the capture of tumor cells for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancer Science
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • adenovirus
  • EMT
  • survivin
  • telomerase
  • vimentin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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