Molecular Imaging in Oncology

Volume 187 of the series Recent Results in Cancer Research pp 221-246


Optical Imaging

  • Jochen MüllerAffiliated withCenter for Stroke Research Berlin (CSB), Department of Experimental Neurology, Charité University Medicine Email author 
  • , Andreas WunderAffiliated withCenter for Stroke Research Berlin (CSB), Department of Experimental Neurology, Charité University Medicine
  • , Kai LichaAffiliated withmivenion, GmbH

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Non-invasive optical imaging techniques, such as fluorescence imaging (FI) or bioluminescence imaging (BLI) have emerged as important tools in biomedical research. As demonstrated in different animal disease models, they enable visualization of physiological and pathophysiological processes at the cellular and molecular level in vivo with high specificity. Optical techniques are easy to use, fast, and affordable. Furthermore, they are characterized by their high sensitivity. In FI, very low amounts of the imaging agent (nano- to femtomol or even less) can be detected. Due to the absorption and scattering of light in tissue, optical techniques exhibit a comparably low spatial resolution in the millimeter range and a depth limit of a few centimeters. However, non-invasive imaging of biological processes in small animals and in outer or inner surfaces as well as during surgery even in humans is feasible. Currently two agents for fluorescence imaging are clinically approved, namely indocyanine green (ICG) and 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA). In the past years, a number of new optical imaging agents for FI and reporter systems for BLI have been developed and successfully tested in animal models. Some of the FI agents might promise the application in clinical oncology. In this chapter, we describe the basic principles of non-invasive optical imaging techniques, give examples for the visualization of biological processes in animal models of cancer, and discuss potential clinical applications in oncology.