Friday, October 5, 2012

Helping Physicians See Beyond The Human Eye

For the medicine of decades ago, a simple X-ray was enough for diagnosis.  For an increasing amount of known biomarkers, the human eye even when aided by an x-ray is not enough. Advances in molecular biology improved the understanding of many diseases and natural processes and helped fuel the development of imaging techniques that diagnose disease on the molecular, or biological, level -- based on the interaction of proteins and other cellular-level compounds. These imaging modalities assess the molecular basis of cell function and dysfunction.      Molecular imaging techniques include nuclear medicine imaging -- positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and combination PET/CT and SPECT/CT techniques – as well as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) imaging that are used with molecular imaging agents.  Molecular imaging makes it possible to take a personalized approach to detecting and managing an illness. In this manner, patients benefit from earlier, more accurate diagnoses and safer, more effective treatments. 
       Molecular imaging techniques are based on technologies that have an intrinsically high resolution, which makes it possible to detect low concentrations of target biomolecules found in tissue.  The key to growth and finding more clinical applications for molecular imaging is the development of new and more specific biomarkers. Specific molecular biomarkers will allow physicians to transition from treating the illness to treating the illness in the individual, opening up a new paradigm in health care. 
     It is possible to predict the best treatment options by characterizing, through molecular imaging techniques, the disease in an individual. Individualized treatment plans will optimize patient outcomes because those patients who are not predicted, or expected, to respond to a specific therapy will not receive that treatment. Researchers can predict whether a medicine might be effective, ineffective, or toxic in certain individuals. Moreover, health care costs will decrease as a result of properly utilizing resources.Tests and examinations that can help doctors diagnose disease earlier and the most appropriate treatment are in order. Such tests, including imaging diagnostics, can lessen health care expenses and improve patient prognosis. Annual growth for molecular imaging modalities through 2015 will be good as the knowledge which molecular modalities have to offer will spur use of these imaging systems, and research will lead to greater Diagnostic use in the clinic. 
      Molecular imaging has evolved into a pillar of molecular medicine. It combines functional imaging with structural imaging so that specific in-vivo molecular processes can be identified and spatially pinpointed, often with the use of imaging contrast agents that bind to specific biological proteins. Molecular imaging is undertaking diagnostic and treatment roles as it enables physicians to pinpoint the locations of disease and track the progress of therapies. The same contrast agents used to highlight disease sites may even be able to carry drugs that can be selectively unleashed precisely where they are needed.

Kalorama Information's report on molecular imaging breaks down developments in molecular imaging and provides company profiles and trends in the market