SNM: Building a bridge between optical imaging and nuclear imaging

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SALT LAKE CITY--Optical imaging techniques may add to the molecular imaging arsenal and facilitate early detection of cancer, according to research presented at the SNM annual meeting this week.

Currently, PET and SPECT imaging technologies image the behavior of particles at the cellular, molecular and atomic levels, according to the researchers. Radioactive materials also emit barely visible light that can be detected with highly sensitive optical imaging technology.

“The need for this study became evident with the rise of new molecular imaging research and multimodality imaging instruments and probes, which could provide better and earlier diagnosis for a variety of diseases,” said Zhen Cheng, PhD, co-author of the study and assistant professor of radiology at Stanford University in California.

Hongguang Liu, PhD, of Stanford University's Molecular Imaging Program, shared that optical imaging techniques can image PET probes such as 18FDG in small animals and demonstrated that conventional optical imaging techniques could non-invasively monitor in vivo behaviors of a variety of radioactive tracers labeled with 18F, I31I  or 90Y.

Liu’s study found good correlation between FDG accumulations in tumors imaged using PET and optical imaging techniques. Similarly, researchers localized 131I using both SPECT and optical imaging technologies.

“These studies should prove that radioactive tracers for optical imaging is a generalizable technique,” Liu concluded. “The technique provides a new molecular imaging strategy and will likely have significant potential for both small animal and clinical imaging. Not only could this have a significant impact on the early detection and diagnosis of disease, but these and resulting techniques could also be applied to future applications in image-guided therapy.”