Optical contrast agents and imaging systems for detection and diagnosis of cancer

Mark C. Pierce, David J. Javier, Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

157 Scopus citations


Molecular imaging has rapidly emerged as a discipline with the potential to impact fundamental biomedical research and clinical practice. Within this field, optical imaging offers several unique capabilities, based on the ability of cells and tissues to effect quantifiable changes in the properties of visible and near-infrared light. Beyond endogenous optical properties, the development of molecularly targeted contrast agents enables disease-specific morphologic and biochemical processes to be labeled with unique optical signatures. Optical imaging systems can then provide real-time visualization of pathophysiology at spatial scales from the subcellular to whole organ levels. In this article, we review fundamental techniques and recent developments in optical molecular imaging, emphasizing laboratory and clinical systems that aim to visualize the microscopic and macroscopic hallmarks of cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1979-1990
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


  • Clinical diagnostics
  • Endoscopy
  • Fluorescence
  • Microscopy
  • Molecular imaging

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