The complexity of cancer, where a single genetic alteration can have multiple functional effects, makes it a fascinating but humbling disease to study, and the necessity of investigating it in its entirety is more imperative than ever before. Advances in transgene technology have made it possible to create cancer cells, or mice with specific genetic alterations, and the application of an array of both functional and molecular non-invasive MR methods to these transgenic cancer cells and mice to characterize their phenotypic traits is revolutionizing our understanding of cancer. With the establishment of multi-modality molecular imaging centers within barrier or pathogen-free facilities, multi-parametric and multi-modality imaging of transgenic mouse models of human cancer are becoming increasingly prevalent. In this review, we outline some of the methods currently available for generating transgenic mice and cancer cell lines. We also present examples of the application of MR methods to transgenic models that are providing novel insights into the molecular and functional characteristics of cancer and are leading to an era of "non-invasive phenotyping" of the effects of specific molecular alterations in cancer.
Copyright (c) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.