Optical imaging modalities: principles and applications in preclinical research and clinical settings

Giacomo Pirovano , Sheryl Roberts , Susanne Kossatz and Thomas Reiner*


With the ability to non-invasively image and monitor molecular processes within tumors, molecular imaging represents a fundamental tool for cancer scientists. In the current review, we describe emergent optical technologies for molecular imaging. We aim to provide the reader with an overview of the fundamental principles on which each imaging strategy is based, to introduce established and future applications, and to provide a rationale for selecting optical technologies for molecular imaging depending on disease location, biology, and anatomy. In order to accelerate clinical translation of imaging techniques, we also describe examples of practical applications in patients. Elevating these techniques into standard-of-care tools will transform patient stratification, disease monitoring and response evaluation.

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