Molecular imaging technology provides a visual representation, at the cellular and sub-cellular levels, of different biological processes. In vivo imaging for cancer evaluation has produced some remarkable breakthroughs within just the past two years. The technology has implications for cancer in general, as well as for specific types of cancer, in terms of both monitoring and treatment.

PET scans may help doctors evaluate patient prognosis. A protein called CD105, found on the surface of cells, is associated with the development of blood vessels (angiogenesis) within a malignant mass. Technicians used a Copper-64 isotope, which bonds with an antibody called TRC105, which then bonds with CD105. A large quantity of CD105 is associated with poor prognosis for a patient. In the past, CD105 was stained in tumors that had been removed, but PET scans allow for the same type of examination, in a non-invasive form.

Doctors also use SPECT scans or cancer metastasis to monitor the effectiveness of treatment. In patients with Hodgkins lymphoma, doctors were able to use scans to predict whether patients would experience event-free survival. Using that information, doctors were able to provide less intense treatment for patients with low risk of failure, and more intensive treatment for patients with high risk of failure.

PET scans have advanced understanding of lung cancer. PET scans are able to identify spots in tumors which have fewer active cancer cells, called "cold spots." These spots show up as dark places on a scan, and they usually consist of dead tumor cells. The information allows doctors to target only the active parts of the tumor, decreasing damage to healthy tissue, and decreasing associated side effects.

Molecular breast imaging has become a secondary diagnosis aid for breast cancer. Sometimes, patients have scar tissue, implants, or lesions, which may be felt, but are not picked up by mammography, MRI, or ultrasound. For these patients, doctors inject breast tissues with radioactive tracers, which mimic glucose, and are absorbed by cells. Cancer cells metabolize most of the tracer, and show up as dark spots on the scan.

Doctors used a similar technique to breast imaging with ovarian cancers. Just as in breast cancer cells, ovarian cancer cells tend to hypermetabolize the radioactive tracer, which distinguishes them from healthy cells on scans. PET/CT scans found cancer cells in both the ovaries and Fallopian tubes, and predicted malignancy accurately in 84% of cases.

Ultrasound with added elastography helps predict cases of skin cancer. The procedure differentiates skin cancers from benign tumors by measuring the elasticity of suspicious areas. Since malignancies tend to be stiffer than benign growths, doctors are able to distinguish cancerous lesions, preventing unnecessary biopsies. Ultrasound also allows doctors to ascertain the depth of the lesion, below the surface of the skin.

Imaging in vivo for evaluation of cancer is just one application of molecular imaging technology. Doctors also use these techniques to gather information about Alzheimer's disease, strokes, and heart disease. For many types of disease, molecular scans allow doctors to see disease in action, in its real physiological setting, so they will better understand its pathways and in vivo mechanisms.

The cutting-edge digital imaging company provides modalities designed for preclinical research, such as invivo and molecular imaging. They specialize in the highest quality of biomarker, micro imaging, rat heart and photoacoustic systems.
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