, Volume 386, Issue 3, pp 444-457,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 19 Jul 2006

Optical molecular imaging for systems biology: from molecule to organism


The development of highly efficient analytical methods capable of probing biological systems at system level is an important task that is required in order to meet the requirements of the emerging field of systems biology. Optical molecular imaging (OMI) is a very powerful tool for studying the temporal and spatial dynamics of specific biomolecules and their interactions in real time in vivo. In this article, recent advances in OMI are reviewed extensively, such as the development of molecular probes that make imaging brighter, more stable and more informative (e.g., FPs and semiconductor nanocrystals, also referred to as quantum dots), the development of imaging approaches that provide higher resolution and greater tissue penetration, and applications for measuring biological events from molecule to organism level, including gene expression, protein and subcellular compartment localization, protein activation and interaction, and low-mass molecule dynamics. These advances are of great significance in the field of biological science and could also be applied to disease diagnosis and pharmaceutical screening. Further developments in OMI for systems biology are also proposed.