Positron emission tomography reporter genes and reporter probes: gene and cell therapy applications

Theranostics. 2012;2(4):374-91. doi: 10.7150/thno.3677. Epub 2012 Apr 10.


Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging reporter genes (IRGs) and PET reporter probes (PRPs) are amongst the most valuable tools for gene and cell therapy. PET IRGs/PRPs can be used to non-invasively monitor all aspects of the kinetics of therapeutic transgenes and cells in all types of living mammals. This technology is generalizable and can allow long-term kinetics monitoring. In gene therapy, PET IRGs/PRPs can be used for whole-body imaging of therapeutic transgene expression, monitoring variations in the magnitude of transgene expression over time. In cell or cellular gene therapy, PET IRGs/PRPs can be used for whole-body monitoring of therapeutic cell locations, quantity at all locations, survival and proliferation over time and also possibly changes in characteristics or function over time. In this review, we have classified PET IRGs/PRPs into two groups based on the source from which they were derived: human or non-human. This classification addresses the important concern of potential immunogenicity in humans, which is important for expansion of PET IRG imaging in clinical trials. We have then discussed the application of this technology in gene/cell therapy and described its use in these fields, including a summary of using PET IRGs/PRPs in gene and cell therapy clinical trials. This review concludes with a discussion of the future direction of PET IRGs/PRPs and recommends cell and gene therapists collaborate with molecular imaging experts early in their investigations to choose a PET IRG/PRP system suitable for progression into clinical trials.

Keywords: Genetically Modified Therapeutic Cells; Imaging Therapeutic Transgenes or Cells; PET Imaging Reporter Genes; Positron Emission Tomography; Therapeutic Transgenes.