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Physiol Rev. 2012 Apr;92(2):897-965. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00049.2010.

A molecular imaging primer: modalities, imaging agents, and applications.

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1
Molecular Imaging Program, Department of Radiology, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA 94305, USA.

Abstract

Molecular imaging is revolutionizing the way we study the inner workings of the human body, diagnose diseases, approach drug design, and assess therapies. The field as a whole is making possible the visualization of complex biochemical processes involved in normal physiology and disease states, in real time, in living cells, tissues, and intact subjects. In this review, we focus specifically on molecular imaging of intact living subjects. We provide a basic primer for those who are new to molecular imaging, and a resource for those involved in the field. We begin by describing classical molecular imaging techniques together with their key strengths and limitations, after which we introduce some of the latest emerging imaging modalities. We provide an overview of the main classes of molecular imaging agents (i.e., small molecules, peptides, aptamers, engineered proteins, and nanoparticles) and cite examples of how molecular imaging is being applied in oncology, neuroscience, cardiology, gene therapy, cell tracking, and theranostics (therapy combined with diagnostics). A step-by-step guide to answering biological and/or clinical questions using the tools of molecular imaging is also provided. We conclude by discussing the grand challenges of the field, its future directions, and enormous potential for further impacting how we approach research and medicine.

PMID:
22535898
DOI:
10.1152/physrev.00049.2010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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