3 Most Common Uses of Molecular Imaging

Imaging the Future of Therapeutics

3 Most Common Uses of Molecular Imaging

One of the modern technologies which is applied in the field of medicine is molecular imaging. This type of imaging gives us a clear picture of what is occurring in our bodies on a molecular level. It helps us to take look into the molecules and the cells. There are other imaging technologies used in medicine. Examples of these are ultrasound, X-rays and Computed Tomography (CT) scanning. These types only give a picture of what is occurring on a physical level. Molecular imaging goes deeper than that and can reveal the biological and chemical processes going on within us. Thanks to its capability, this type of imaging has a number of specialized uses. Read on to discover 6 most common uses of molecular imaging.

1. Detecting recurrent prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most reported type of cancer among men. One out of every seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Moreover, it is the second leading cause of death among men worldwide. After diagnosis, prostate cancer is usually treated with surgery, external beam radiation therapy or Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT). In most cases, the cancer is eliminated using these methods. However, in some cases there is a biochemical recurrence especially if the method of treatment was radiation or surgery. Whenever prostate cancer recurs, it is important to locate the recurrent cancer cells so as to administer the right treatment. CT and MRI scans have sensitivity levels which are too low for this application. However, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) preclinical molecular imaging can be applied so as to detect this cancer. When used alongside C-11 choline, PET imaging can assist doctors to detect any metastases in the lymph nodes. This helps in the treatment of the recurrent cancer.

2. In the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia.  A high percentage of 60% to 80% of dementia cases are caused by AD. One of the most distinct indicators of AD include deposits of meta-amyloid protein in the brain. Others include loss of neuron cells and brain atrophy. One of the ways to look into the brain for the purpose of detecting this disease is an amyloid-PET. This is a molecular imaging procedure which can identify biomarkers of this disease and help in determining the appropriate treatment. C-11 Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) is a molecular tracer which is combined with molecular amyloid-PET screening for the purpose of measuring the levels of amyloid deposits and ascertain if a patient has AD or not. This form of imaging also helps to determine the progress of the AD in the patient. It is helpful in determining the appropriate course of action in treatment.

3. ImmunoPET for personalization of medication. Today, there is a major push for precision medicine which is personalized for each patient. Medical researchers are exploring the field of targeted therapeutics. Normally, it is quite expensive and has toxicity concerns. Moreover, in-vitro assays which are performed do not accurately indicate the patient’s response to precision medical therapy. Thus, molecular imaging is used to analyze the tumors, receptors or antigens which are the targets of personalized medicine. ImmunoPET is a molecular imaging solution which is ideal for this purpose. It analyzes the movement of radiolabeled antibodies in the patient and helps to monitor the personalized therapeutic treatment. In this way, medical practitioners can know if their treatments are reaching the target tissues and cells in the patient’s body.

Molecular imaging gives health providers a deeper view of what is going on in the body. By analyzing the cell behavior and tissue response to diseases, they can formulate treatment therapies which are accurate and successful. Some of the applications of molecular imaging have been indicated above. They are essential in the treatment of various diseases and conditions today.