Report: Molecular imaging crucial for personalized medicine success

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Personalized medicine will be driven by the imaging industry, especially the new molecular technologies, according to a market research report from Kalorama Information.

If images can reveal not just the heightened metabolic activity characteristic of tumors but the tumors’ chemical signatures, physicians can devise individualized therapies. They will lead to more effective treatments at a lower cost, according to the findings of the Kalorama report.

While medical imaging equipment markets have experienced a slump in sales due to the recession, this is not the case for contrast agents and radiopharmaceuticals. Kalorama expects yearly growth rates for contrast agents used with most modalities to range from 5 percent to 11 percent. Radiopharmaceuticals will experience slightly stronger annual growth–in the range of 10 percent to 16 percent from $830 million in 2008.

Using radiopharmaceuticals, after the illness is identified and treatment begins, doctors can evaluate its effectiveness by tracking the production or inhibition of amyloids, instead of waiting months to evaluate subjectively whether behavior has changed, report authors wrote. If a drug does not have the desired effect, treatment can be adjusted.

“Because molecular imaging allows for functional as well as anatomical imaging, diseases can be diagnosed at a much earlier stage and individualized therapies applied,” noted Kalorama's Publisher, Bruce Carlson. “With nuclear medicine making gains as a powerful tool for identifying and targeting the root of disease, radiopharmaceutical contrast agents are sure to enjoy strong growth.”

Both diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals are becoming increasingly important as the market shifts toward molecular imaging. And molecular imaging is  expected to remain at the forefront of research given its unique capability to image molecular abnormalities that are the basis of disease and the processes that are in progress, prior to the structural changes produced by the processes, according to the report.