Molecular imaging: current status and emerging strategies.

Department of Radiology, Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5424, USA.
Clinical Radiology (Impact Factor: 1.66). 07/2010; 65(7):500-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.crad.2010.03.011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In vivo molecular imaging has a great potential to impact medicine by detecting diseases in early stages (screening), identifying extent of disease, selecting disease- and patient-specific treatment (personalized medicine), applying a directed or targeted therapy, and measuring molecular-specific effects of treatment. Current clinical molecular imaging approaches primarily use positron-emission tomography (PET) or single photon-emission computed tomography (SPECT)-based techniques. In ongoing preclinical research, novel molecular targets of different diseases are identified and, sophisticated and multifunctional contrast agents for imaging these molecular targets are developed along with new technologies and instrumentation for multi-modality molecular imaging. Contrast-enhanced molecular ultrasound (US) with molecularly-targeted contrast microbubbles is explored as a clinically translatable molecular imaging strategy for screening, diagnosing, and monitoring diseases at the molecular level. Optical imaging with fluorescent molecular probes and US imaging with molecularly-targeted microbubbles are attractive strategies as they provide real-time imaging, are relatively inexpensive, produce images with high spatial resolution, and do not involve exposure to ionizing irradiation. Raman spectroscopy/microscopy has emerged as a molecular optical imaging strategy for ultrasensitive detection of multiple biomolecules/biochemicals with both in vivo and ex vivo versatility. Photoacoustic imaging is a hybrid of optical and US techniques involving optically-excitable molecularly-targeted contrast agents and quantitative detection of resulting oscillatory contrast agent movement with US. Current preclinical findings and advances in instrumentation, such as endoscopes and microcatheters, suggest that these molecular imaging methods have numerous potential clinical applications and will be translated into clinical use in the near future.

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