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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Feb 2;97(3):172-87.

Imaging angiogenesis: applications and potential for drug development.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 100 Charles River Plaza, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Recognition of the importance of angiogenesis to tumor growth and metastasis has led to efforts to develop new drugs that are targeted to angiogenic vasculature. Clinical trials of these agents are challenging, both because there is no agreed upon method of establishing the correct dosage for drugs whose mechanism of action is not primarily cytotoxic and because of the long time it takes to determine whether such drugs have a clinical effect. Therefore, there is a need for rapid and effective biomarkers to establish drug dosage and monitor clinical response. This review addresses the potential of imaging as a way to accurately and reliably assess changes in angiogenic vasculature in response to therapy. We describe the advantages and disadvantages of several imaging modalities, including positron emission tomography, x-ray computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, and optical imaging, for imaging angiogenic vasculature. We also discuss the analytic methods used to derive blood flow, blood volume, empirical semiquantitative hemodynamic parameters, and quantitative hemodynamic parameters from pharmacokinetic modeling. We examine the validity of these methods, citing studies that test correlations between data derived from imaging and data derived from other established methods, their reproducibility, and correlations between imaging-derived hemodynamic parameters and other pathologic indicators, such as microvessel density, pathology score, and disease outcome. Finally, we discuss which imaging methods are most likely to have the sensitivity and reliability required for monitoring responses to cancer therapy and describe ways in which imaging has been used in clinical trials to date.

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