180 pages 

Date published 
January 2008 

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Molecular Imaging Report Overview


Cover PageMolecular Imaging in Drug R&D and Medical Practice: Technologies, Applications, Markets

By Ken Rubenstein, PhD 




The rapidly emerging field of molecular imaging is poised to open new vistas for basic researchers, scientists working in drug discovery and development, and physicians. This new report delves fully into:

  • The history, evolution, and potential of molecular imaging
  • The technologies in use today and under development for the future
  • Applications in drug development and diagnostic medicine
  • Market dynamics that are shaping and reshaping commerce in molecular imaging instruments and reagents
  • Regulatory aspects of the field
  • Interviews with experts active as either providers or users of molecular imaging
  • Results of an online survey of individuals in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and institutional researchers

Sample survey results:

If your organization uses in vivo molecular imaging for preclinical development, please rate your use of the following technologies.

Overview Image 

Applying a weighted average rating (0=not at all, 8=frequently), fluorescent probe measurement ranked highest for use in preclinical development (6.17), followed by near infrared measurement (4.58), and reporter gene technology (4.26).

Source: © Cambridge Healthtech Institute, Insight Pharma Reports, "Molecular Imaging in Drug R&D and Medical Practice," January 2008

Little more than 5 years old, the postgenomic field of molecular imaging is undergoing rapid research and commercial development, driven largely by big pharma’s burgeoning interest in biomarkers as crucial for decision support in preclinical and early clinical development.

The term biomarker is often associated with the detection or measurement (in vitro) of expressed genes, proteins, or metabolites in biological fluids. To drug developers, however, biomarker can refer equally well to morphological, functional, or molecular measurements made in vivo using medical imaging equipment, such as:

  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Ultrasound
  • Optical scanners

Progress in molecular imaging biomarkers for preclinical development, which do not need regulatory approval, potentially leads to biomarkers for human clinical trials, which do require such approval. Those biomarkers deemed useful in routine medical practice may then graduate to become part of the physician’s diagnostic armamentarium. Molecular imaging requires probes or tracer molecules, and few such molecules have yet been approved for use in humans. Although a number more are in development, the expense in dollars and time required currently limit the rate of expansion of the molecular imaging field. A number of companies, both large and small, have set out to remedy this situation.

Molecular Imaging in Drug R&D and Medical Practice: Technologies, Applications, Markets offers thorough insight into the molecular imaging marketplace, which consists of 3 main supplier factions: large corporations, small corporations, and contract research organizations (CROs). Researchers in the commercial sector provide new instrument and reagent technologies, but academic researchers also have a significant role to play in generating new concepts and testing their feasibility. On the consumption end, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies use instruments and reagents for preclinical and clinical development directly in-house and indirectly through CROs and academic centers. This report is a valuable tool for all involved in the field.

About the Author

Ken Rubenstein, PhD, a biochemist and molecular biologist, received his PhD at the University of Wisconsin and postdoctoral training at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine. He was a key innovator and research manager for Syva Company, the diagnostics branch of Syntex Corporation. During his 13 years with Syva, Dr. Rubenstein became vice president, scientific affairs, a function that included strategic planning.