ABSTRACT: More than two decades of intense research have allowed gene therapy to move from the laboratory to the clinical setting, where its use for the treatment of human pathologies has been considerably increased in the last years. However, many crucial questions remain to be solved in this challenging field. In vivo imaging with positron emission tomography (PET) by combination of the appropriate PET reporter gene and PET reporter probe could provide invaluable qualitative and quantitative information to answer multiple unsolved questions about gene therapy. PET imaging could be used to define parameters not available by other techniques that are of substantial interest not only for the proper understanding of the gene therapy process, but also for its future development and clinical application in humans. This review focuses on the molecular biology basis of gene therapy and molecular imaging, describing the fundamentals of in vivo gene expression imaging by PET, and the application of PET to gene therapy, as a technology that can be used in many different ways. It could be applied to avoid invasive procedures for gene therapy monitoring; accurately diagnose the pathology for better planning of the most adequate therapeutic approach; as treatment evaluation to image the functional effects of gene therapy at the biochemical level; as a quantitative noninvasive way to monitor the location, magnitude and persistence of gene expression over time; and would also help to a better understanding of vector biology and pharmacology devoted to the development of safer and more efficient vectors.
Molecular Imaging & Biology 6(4):225-38. · 3.84 Impact Factor