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Genomics Inform > Volume 5(2); 2007 > Article
Molecular Imaging in the Age of Genomic Medicine.
Jonghoe Byun
Department of Molecular Biology, BK21 graduate program for RNA Biology, Institute of Nanosensor and Biotechnology, Dankook University, Seoul 140-714, Korea.
The convergence of molecular and genetic disciplines with non-invasive imaging technologies has provided an opportunity for earlier detection of disease processes which begin with molecular and cellular abnormalities. This emerging field, known as molecular imaging, is a relatively new discipline that has been rapidly developed over the past decade. It endeavors to construct a visual representation, characterization, and quantification of biological processes at the molecular and cellular level within living organisms. One of the goals of molecular imaging is to translate our expanding knowledge of molecular biology and genomic sciences into good patient care. The practice of molecular imaging is still largely experimental, and only limited clinical success has been achieved. However, it is anticipated that molecular imaging will move increasingly out of the research laboratory and into the clinic over the next decade. Non-invasive in vivo molecular imaging makes use of nuclear, magnetic resonance, and in vivo optical imaging systems. Recently, an interest in Positron Emission Tomography (PET) has been revived, and along with optical imaging systems PET is assuming new, important roles in molecular genetic imaging studies. Current PET molecular imaging strategies mostly rely on the detection of probe accumulation directly related to the physiology or the level of reporter gene expression. PET imaging of both endogenous and exogenous gene expression can be achieved in animals using reporter constructs and radiolabeled probes. As increasing numbers of genetic markers become available for imaging targets, it is anticipated that a better understanding of genomics will contribute to the advancement of the molecular genetic imaging field. In this report, the principles of non-invasive molecular genetic imaging, its applications and future directions are discussed.
Keywords: molecular genetic imaging; reporter gene imaging; probe; PET; genomics


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