Since its introduction mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) has proven to be a powerful tool for the localization of molecules in biological tissues. In drug discovery and development, understanding the distribution of both drug and its metabolites is of critical importance. Traditional methods suffer from a lack of spatial information (tissue extraction followed by LCMS) or lack of specificity resulting in the inability to resolve parent drug from its metabolites (whole body autoradiography). MSI is a sensitive and label-free approach for imaging drugs and metabolites in tissues. In this article we review the different MSI technologies that have been applied to the imaging of pharmaceuticals. Recent technical advances, applications and current analytical limitations are discussed.
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