Molecular Probes and Imaging Agents
The emphasis is on engineering of targeting and responsive molecular probes of high sensitivity and specificity for PET and SPECT (radiotracers), MR (T1, T2, CEST, hyperpolarized agents), EPR, CT, optical (fluorescent and bioluminescent probes), ultrasound (microbubbles) and photoacoustic imaging. The imaging agents may be based on nano- and micro-particles, liposomes, dendrimers, proteins, small organic and inorganic molecules etc., and detectable by one or more imaging modalities. Imaging agent development through methodologies such as chemical synthesis, biological mutagenesis, microfabrication, etc., may be pursued with an intent of leading to in vivo biomedical application.
The goal of this program is to generate robust molecular probes, imaging agents and platforms for biomedical application across all disease areas to facilitate diagnostics and improve understanding of disease state, progression, and therapeutic response.
This program also supports the development of other imaging agents, for example:
- multimodal molecular probes (PET/MRI, PET/fluorescent, etc.)
- imaging reporter genes and reporter gene/imaging probe duos
- molecular probes as part of theranostic systems or biosensors
- imaging agents for cell labelling and in vivo tracking
- molecular probes for image-guided interventions
The following related scientific areas are supported by other NIBIB programs:
- development of biomaterials is supported by the Biomaterials and Biomolecular Constructs program
- synthetic biology approaches are supported by the Synthetic Biology for Technology Development program
- development of associated imaging methods and related hardware/software is supported by NIBIB programs for specific imaging modalities
- image processing technology is supported by the Image Processing, Visualization, Perception and Display
Dr. Roger Tsien talked about the future of fluorescence research and how it may have the ability to not only help surgeons identify cancerous tumors, but also help them to avoid cutting nerves.