Imaging approaches to optimize molecular therapies

Sci Transl Med. 2016 Sep 7;8(355):355ps16. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf3936.


Imaging, including its use for innovative tissue sampling, is slowly being recognized as playing a pivotal role in drug development, clinical trial design, and more effective delivery and monitoring of molecular therapies. The challenge is that, while a considerable number of new imaging technologies and new targeted tracers have been developed for cancer imaging in recent years, the technologies are neither evenly distributed nor evenly implemented. Furthermore, many imaging innovations are not validated and are not ready for widespread use in drug development or in clinical trial designs. Inconsistent and often erroneous use of terminology related to quantitative imaging biomarkers has also played a role in slowing their development and implementation. We examine opportunities for, and challenges of, the use of imaging biomarkers to facilitate development of molecular therapies and to accelerate progress in clinical trial design. In the future, in vivo molecular imaging, image-guided tissue sampling for mutational analyses ("high-content biopsies"), and noninvasive in vitro tests ("liquid biopsies") will likely be used in various combinations to provide the best possible monitoring and individualized treatment plans for cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Insurance, Health, Reimbursement
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy* / economics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers