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Science 312 (5777): 1168-1171

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Molecular Imaging in Cancer

Ralph Weissleder

Abstract: Medical imaging technologies have undergone explosive growth over the past few decades and now play a central role in clinical oncology. But the truly transformative power of imaging in the clinical management of cancer patients lies ahead. Today, imaging is at a crossroads, with molecularly targeted imaging agents expected to broadly expand the capabilities of conventional anatomical imaging methods. Molecular imaging will allow clinicians to not only see where a tumor is located in the body, but also to visualize the expression and activity of specific molecules (e.g., proteases and protein kinases) and biological processes (e.g., apoptosis, angiogenesis, and metastasis) that influence tumor behavior and/or response to therapy. This information is expected to have a major impact on cancer detection, individualized treatment, and drug development, as well as our understanding of how cancer arises.

Center for Molecular Imaging Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.

E-mail: weissleder{at}

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J Biomater Appl 28, 1051-1059
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Tumor-specific Localization of Self-assembled Nanoparticle PET/MR Modalities.
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S. Song, C. Xiong, W. Lu, G. Ku, G. Huang, and C. Li (2013)
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An Optical Probe for Noninvasive Molecular Imaging of Orthotopic Brain Tumors Overexpressing Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor.
R. S. Agnes, A.-M. Broome, J. Wang, A. Verma, K. Lavik, and J. P. Basilion (2012)
Mol. Cancer Ther. 11, 2202-2211
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A Molecular Imaging Primer: Modalities, Imaging Agents, and Applications.
M. L. James and S. S. Gambhir (2012)
Physiol Rev 92, 897-965
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Noninvasively Imaging Matrix Metalloproteinase Activity at Primary and Metastatic Tumor Sites.
J. O. McIntyre (2010)
Am. Assoc. Cancer Res. Educ. Book 2010, 9-13
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Evaluation of a 64Cu-Labeled Cystine-Knot Peptide Based on Agouti-Related Protein for PET of Tumors Expressing {alpha}v{beta}3 Integrin.
L. Jiang, R. H. Kimura, Z. Miao, A. P. Silverman, G. Ren, H. Liu, P. Li, S. S. Gambhir, J. R. Cochran, and Z. Cheng (2010)
J. Nucl. Med. 51, 251-258
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Chiral porphyrazine near-IR optical imaging agent exhibiting preferential tumor accumulation.
E. R. Trivedi, A. S. Harney, M. B. Olive, I. Podgorski, K. Moin, B. F. Sloane, A. G. M. Barrett, T. J. Meade, and B. M. Hoffman (2010)
PNAS 107, 1284-1288
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Cooperative nanomaterial system to sensitize, target, and treat tumors.
J.-H. Park, G. von Maltzahn, M. J. Xu, V. Fogal, V. R. Kotamraju, E. Ruoslahti, S. N. Bhatia, and M. J. Sailor (2010)
PNAS 107, 981-986
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Optical imaging-guided cancer therapy with fluorescent nanoparticles.
S. Jiang, M. K. Gnanasammandhan, and Y. Zhang (2010)
J R Soc Interface 7, 3-18
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Molecular Imaging Application of Radioiodinated Anti-EGFR Human Fab to EGFR-overexpressing Tumor Xenografts.
N. XU, G. CAI, W. YE, X. WANG, Y. LI, P. ZHAO, A. ZHANG, R. ZHANG, and B. CAO (2009)
Anticancer Res 29, 4005-4011
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Specific Targeting of Brain Tumors with an Optical/Magnetic Resonance Imaging Nanoprobe across the Blood-Brain Barrier.
O. Veiseh, C. Sun, C. Fang, N. Bhattarai, J. Gunn, F. Kievit, K. Du, B. Pullar, D. Lee, R. G. Ellenbogen, et al. (2009)
Cancer Res. 69, 6200-6207
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Receptor-Targeted Nanoparticles for In vivo Imaging of Breast Cancer.
L. Yang, X.-H. Peng, Y. A. Wang, X. Wang, Z. Cao, C. Ni, P. Karna, X. Zhang, W. C. Wood, X. Gao, et al. (2009)
Clin. Cancer Res. 15, 4722-4732
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Improvement of Biodistribution and Therapeutic Index via Increase of Polyethylene Glycol on Drug-carrying Liposomes in an HT-29/luc Xenografted Mouse Model.
T.-H. CHOW, Y.-Y. LIN, J.-J. HWANG, H.-E. WANG, Y.-L. TSENG, S.-J. WANG, R.-S. LIU, W.-J. LIN, C.-S. YANG, and G. TING (2009)
Anticancer Res 29, 2111-2120
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C. Tamerler and M. Sarikaya (2009)
Phil Trans R Soc A 367, 1705-1726
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Early Detection of Oral Neoplasia: Watching with New Eyes.
G. J. Kelloff, C. C. Sigman, and C. H. Contag (2009)
Cancer Prevention Research 2, 405-408
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New Insights Into the Pathogenesis of Serous Ovarian Cancer and Its Clinical Impact.
K. Levanon, C. Crum, and R. Drapkin (2008)
J. Clin. Oncol. 26, 5284-5293
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Noninvasive molecular imaging of small living subjects using Raman spectroscopy.
S. Keren, C. Zavaleta, Z. Cheng, A. de la Zerda, O. Gheysens, and S. S. Gambhir (2008)
PNAS 105, 5844-5849
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A novel affinity protein selection system based on staphylococcal cell surface display and flow cytometry.
N. Kronqvist, J. Lofblom, A. Jonsson, H. Wernerus, and S. Stahl (2008)
Protein Eng. Des. Sel. 21, 247-255
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Fluorescence resonance energy transfer in near-infrared fluorescent oligonucleotide probes for detecting protein-DNA interactions.
S. Zhang, V. Metelev, D. Tabatadze, P. C. Zamecnik, and A. Bogdanov Jr (2008)
PNAS 105, 4156-4161
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Changes in 18F-FDG Uptake Within Minutes After Chemotherapy in a Rabbit VX2 Tumor Model.
S.-L. Song, J.-J. Liu, G. Huang, Z.-H. Wang, Y.-Y. Song, X.-G. Sun, and T. Chen (2008)
J. Nucl. Med. 49, 303-309
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Silencing of human ferrochelatase causes abundant protoporphyrin-IX accumulation in colon cancer.
W. Kemmner, K. Wan, S. Ruttinger, B. Ebert, R. Macdonald, U. Klamm, and K. T. Moesta (2008)
FASEB J 22, 500-509
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Nanoparticle PET-CT Imaging of Macrophages in Inflammatory Atherosclerosis.
M. Nahrendorf, H. Zhang, S. Hembrador, P. Panizzi, D. E. Sosnovik, E. Aikawa, P. Libby, F. K. Swirski, and R. Weissleder (2008)
Circulation 117, 379-387
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The healing myocardium sequentially mobilizes two monocyte subsets with divergent and complementary functions.
M. Nahrendorf, F. K. Swirski, E. Aikawa, L. Stangenberg, T. Wurdinger, J.-L. Figueiredo, P. Libby, R. Weissleder, and M. J. Pittet (2007)
J. Exp. Med. 204, 3037-3047
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Evaluation of Staphylococcal Cell Surface Display and Flow Cytometry for Postselectional Characterization of Affinity Proteins in Combinatorial Protein Engineering Applications.
J. Lofblom, J. Sandberg, H. Wernerus, and S. Stahl (2007)
Appl. Envir. Microbiol. 73, 6714-6721
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Molecular Imaging of Cardiovascular Disease.
F. A. Jaffer, P. Libby, and R. Weissleder (2007)
Circulation 116, 1052-1061
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Mechanism and uses of a membrane peptide that targets tumors and other acidic tissues in vivo.
O. A. Andreev, A. D. Dupuy, M. Segala, S. Sandugu, D. A. Serra, C. O. Chichester, D. M. Engelman, and Y. K. Reshetnyak (2007)
PNAS 104, 7893-7898
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Dual Channel Optical Tomographic Imaging of Leukocyte Recruitment and Protease Activity in the Healing Myocardial Infarct.
M. Nahrendorf, D. E. Sosnovik, P. Waterman, F. K. Swirski, A. N. Pande, E. Aikawa, J.-L. Figueiredo, M. J. Pittet, and R. Weissleder (2007)
Circ. Res. 100, 1218-1225
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Molecular Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Cardiovascular Medicine.
D. E. Sosnovik, M. Nahrendorf, and R. Weissleder (2007)
Circulation 115, 2076-2086
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Targeting Tyrosine Kinases in Cancer: The Second Wave..
J. Baselga (2006)
Science 312, 1175-1178
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