Molecular imaging is broadly defined as the characterization and measurement of biological processes in living animals, model systems, and humans at the cellular and molecular levels using remote imaging detection methods. It performs non-invasive, painless medical imaging tests to report on early stage disease conditions that are unattainable with other imaging techniques without more invasive procedures such as biopsy or surgery. Therefore, it has become part of standard care for many types of cancer to develop personalized ways to diagnose and monitor therapies in patients with higher sensitivity and specificity.
Here at University Medical Center, Mainz, we work on innovative ideas to bridge basic research and clinical medicine. Within the scope of early detection, we focus on cancers of the esophagus (Barrett's esophagus) and surveillance of gastrointestinal malignancies e.g., colorectal cancer, colon polyps etc. Endoscopic techniques (in combination with confocal microscopy) along with cell surface markers are used to detect these abnormalities providing the opportunity to identify cancerous transformation before it is detectable by either imaging or histology. The investigation includes identification of potential markers as target, developing fluorescent labelled biochemical agents e.g., antibody, peptide, nanoparticles etc. targeting disease-associated molecules or structures, measuring, visualizing and processing of emitted signals in constructing image to understand pathological conditions. Through molecular imaging we are dedicated to develop and implement standard methods for in vivo imaging of molecular signatures of human cancers for its early detection, evaluation and treatment (image guided therapy).