Molecular imaging technology can be used for imaging gene delivery, exogenous marker gene and also to understand the molecular pathways like angiogenesis, apoptosis and much more.


1. Imaging gene delivery and also gene expression:

Molecular imaging can be used to study and follow the expression of modifying genes from outside the body in intact living organisms. To study the expression of genes molecular imaging technique uses the in vivo reporter genes. This technology is now used in cancer research and also in gene therapy. Transgenes being studied by molecular imaging technique are transferred into cells or tissues of interest using a variety of vectors, like viruses, liposomes or sometimes necked DNA itself.
To identify transgene, a reporter gene can be used as targets for molecular imaging. These reporter genes can be linked to the gene of interest using other molecular biology techniques. In molecular technique assumption is that reporter gene expression images accurately reflects expression of the gene of interest.

2. Imaging of Endogenous Gene Expression:

Our knowledge regarding the expression and function of endogenous genes are very limited to the results from in vitro studies. These results may not be same for in vivo scenario. Such in vitro studies regarding the endogenous genes require tissue section and also it is time consuming process.

Research is going in molecular imaging technique, to develop a method, which can be used to validate expression of endogenous genes. For example recently in vivo imaging of vascular endothelial growth factor gene expression is studies using molecular imaging technique. A number of transgenic animal models and other techniques will ultimately be developed to study the most important genes like regulatory genes and its expression in vivo condition.

3. Early Detection of Disease and Molecular Characterization:

Molecular imaging technique can also be used to detect the base of the disease by detecting early stages of molecular abnormalities, before the onset of actual diseases. For example molecular imaging technique is used for the early detection of small breast cancer and prostate cancer on the basis of expression of tumor-associated enzymes. Some of the enzymes being investigated are cathepsins, prostate-specific antigen, and matrix metalloproteases. Enzymes offer the possibility to use specific precursors for imaging. These precursors are so specific to the condition that they are not detectable unless they become activated.

4. Imaging Drug Therapy:

Molecular imaging technique can be used to determine the pharmacodynamics and also pharmacokinetics of newly developing drugs or in other words drugs which are in discovery level or clinical testing level. Molecular imaging technique is probed for the specific molecular target, against which the pharmaceutical compound is being directed.
Molecular imaging technique can also be used as monitoring tool to help in refining treatments and this will reduce the potential risk and also cost of the treatment.
Molecular imaging technique can also be used to understand the delivery barriers for newly developing pharmaceutical compounds, particularly for large-molecular weight compounds or therapeutic drugs.

5. Imaging Molecular Pathways:
Molecular imaging technique can also be used to image molecular pathways such as cellular apoptosis. Research is going on to study and image other molecular pathways such as transfection events, transcription of a gene and much more.

6. Monitoring Gene therapy and Therapeutic Gene Imaging:

Molecular imaging technique can be used to study the important issues related to gene therapy, like clinical optimization of gene therapy technique. Molecular imaging technique using specific reporter gene and reporter probes can be used to study and monitor gene therapy.

Molecular imaging technique by using particular reporter gene and also specific reporter probe can be used to study and image gene transduction and also gene expression in patients who are being treated by gene therapy.

7. Imaging Inflammation:

Molecular imaging technique can also be used to image inflammation. This method can be divided into three groups such as imaging mediators; these mediators are present at the site of inflammation or other molecules which control the migration to the site of inflammation, or by imaging leukocytes. For example molecular imaging technique is used to study the inflammatory mediators of lung inflammation. Molecular imaging technique can also be used to study inflammatory response to different kinds of infection.

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