Molecular imaging is a rapidly growing new discipline in gastrointestinal endoscopy. It uses the molecular signature of cells for minimally-invasive, targeted imaging of gastrointestinal pathologies. Molecular imaging comprises wide field techniques for the detection of lesions and microscopic techniques for in vivo characterization. Exogenous fluorescent agents serve as molecular beacons and include labeled peptides and antibodies, and probes with tumor-specific activation. Most applications have aimed at improving the detection of gastrointestinal neoplasia with either prototype fluorescence endoscopy or confocal endomicroscopy, and first studies have translated encouraging results from rodent and tissue models to endoscopy in humans. Even with the limitations of the currently used approaches, molecular imaging has the potential to greatly impact on future endoscopy in gastroenterology.
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