Molecular chemistry for medical imaging and theranostics

Research and développement

One of the two research axes of the Institute of Molecular Chemistry of the University of Burgundy (ICMUB, UMR CNRS 6302) is entitled “Health, medical imaging and therapy”.ICMUB develops innovative tools for the design and the synthesis of new imaging agents and theranostics :

  • Synthesis of efficient chelators of relevant metal cations used for nuclear imaging (PET: 64Cu, 68Ga, 89Zr, SPECT: 111In) and MRI (Gd)
  • Synthesis and physico-chemical studies of fluorescent dyes with optimized properties: high quantum yield, tunable absorption and emission wavelengths (NIR region), good hydrophilic /lipophilic balance
  • Elaboration of multimodal probes combining the advantages of different imaging techniques: PET/MRI in the frame of the IMAPPI program, optical/nuclear (SPECT or PET) imaging
  • Development of new bioorthogonal methods of bioconjugation for site specific labelling of biovectors (antibodies, fragments, peptides,…)
  • Radiolabelling of biomolecules: monoclonal antibodies and fragments, lipopolysaccharides, peptides
  • Search of innovative fluorination methods for 18F labelling of peptides or small molecules
  • Synthesis of theranostic agents combining imaging and therapeutic properties: organometallic species with antitumoral activity (Au, Os, Ru, Pt,…),  or  radioemitter complexes conjugated to an antibody for radioimmunotherapy (RIT), ADC (Antibody Drug Conjugate), porphyrinoids for PDT
  • Functionalization of nanoparticles (silica, gold, USPIO) for imaging or theranostics (radiosensitizing nanoparticles)
  • Synthesis of new imaging agents: labelled (PET or SPECT, fluorescence/PET) antibodies targeting HER2 receptors for breast cancer, radiolabelled PSMA imaging probes for prostate cancer, peptide aptamers capable of inhibiting Hsp70 activity, small imaging probes targeting CXCR4 receptors,…
  • Development of innovative imaging methods: Cherenkov luminescence imaging (CLI)


Transdiciplinary and translational (from bench to bedside) research

These new tools can be readily applied for in-vivo medical imaging thanks to the highly favorable and unique environment built in Dijon in the last 10 years under the aegis of the GIE PharmImage®.
This exceptional context encourages the development of new projects at chemistry-biology-medical interface, helped by a strong partnership between chemists, biologists, pharmacists, physicians, from CNRS and INSERM research centers, CGFL, CHU, private companies, and the implementation of high level equipments: i) a preclinical platform gathering all the facilities for small animal imaging (SPECT, PET/MRI, optical) and providing ideal environment for handling radioactivity and animals, ii) the radiochemistry platform located close to the cyclotron; iii) the PACSMUB platform for molecular characterization (ISO 9001 certification), including high field NMR machines, MALDI TOF and ESI mass spectrometers, X-Ray diffractometers, spectrophotometers and fluorimeters,… (
The presence of the CGFL anticancer center, authorized for phase 0 trials, may allow the transfer to clinics.


Valorization and technology transfer

The exceptional public/private partnership, the very high potential of valorization of the results obtained in this field, associated to the historical background of ICMUB in valorization and protection of sensible data and scientific results (industrial UMR from 1993 to 2005), prompt us to take intellectual property and to bring to the market products or services on three levels :

  • technological bricks (chelators, fluorophores, bimodal probes,…) that can be commercialized by existing spin-off or new start-up
  • services for academic or private partners in bioconjugation, characterization of bioconjugates, radiolabelling, peptide synthesis
  • on a longer timescale, development of new imaging agents and theranostics

logo-ChematechCheMatech® company has been created in 2005 from the know how of the ICMUB and is today the european leader in the design, the synthesis and the supply of chelating agents, such as DOTA derivatives, precursors of MRI contrast agents and PET and SPECT tracers. (


A leading partner in the field of Bioconjugation for Imaging and Therapy

A leading partner in the field of Bioconjugation for Imaging and Therapy

Welience Bioconjugates is a business unit of SATT Grand-Est created in 2013, which aims to valorize the research of ICMUB by providing services for the design, the synthesis and the radiolabeling of bioconjugates. The main objective is to serve and assist academic labs and private companies by providing customized bioconjugation services, offering a global assistance to identify the best strategy for labelling biomolecules and providing the most relevant and best probes for imaging studies. Welience Bioconjugates is strongly connected to the Pharmimage® platforms (CGFL preclinical platform) and ensures the link between academics (ICMUB and its partners) and industrial actors (clusters and private customers).


Logo-ICMUBInstitut de Chimie Moléculaire – Université de Bourgogne, ICMUB UMR CNRS 6302