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Near Infrared Technology and Optical Agents For Molecular Imaging

D. Michael Olive, Ph.D.
Molecular Biology Department
LI-COR Biosciences
Lincoln, NE 68504


ABSTRACT
Optical imaging is a rapidly developing biomedical technology that enables the examination of cellular processes in the context of a living animal. While several optical imaging modalities employing fluorescent proteins or bioluminescent reporter systems have shown utility in life science research, targeted ligands labeled with near infrared emitting fluorochromes have the additional potential to translate to human clinical use. Described here is a brief overview of the optical imaging technologies currently in use with a particular focus on the use of ligand-targeted near infrared fluorochromes as imaging agents.


INTRODUCTION
Optical Imaging consists of several technologies which can be used to non-invasively interrogate an animal model for the progression of a disease, determine the effects of drug candidates on the target pathology, assess the pharmacokinetic behavior of a drug candidate, compare candidate drugs for target binding affinity, and develop biomarkers indicative of disease and treatment outcomes. Optical Imaging is comprised of three approaches which offer the potential for high sensitivity and good spatial resolution.

Bioluminescent imaging is an indirect technique based on the expression of firefly luciferase from recombinant plasmids inserted into hybrid cell lines that can be transplanted into animals. In some cases the gene is constitutively expressed and the introduction of luciferin, either injected or inhaled, allows the production of light in the target cells. In a second case, the luciferase gene can be activated by chemical induction of the promoter controlling the gene's express
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