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Cellular Oncology
Volume 28 (2006), Issue 4, Pages 127-139

Non-Invasive in vivo Imaging in Small Animal Research

V. Koo,1 P. W. Hamilton,2 and K. Williamson1

1Uro-oncology Research Group, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
2Bio-Imaging & Informatics Research Group Centre Cancer Research & Cell Biology, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Non-invasive real time in vivo molecular imaging in small animal models has become the essential bridge between in vitro data and their translation into clinical applications. The tremendous development and technological progress, such as tumour modelling, monitoring of tumour growth and detection of metastasis, has facilitated translational drug development. This has added to our knowledge on carcinogenesis. The modalities that are commonly used include Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT), Positron Emission Tomography (PET), bioluminescence imaging, fluorescence imaging and multi-modality imaging systems. The ability to obtain multiple images longitudinally provides reliable information whilst reducing animal numbers. As yet there is no one modality that is ideal for all experimental studies. This review outlines the instrumentation available together with corresponding applications reported in the literature with particular emphasis on cancer research. Advantages and limitations to current imaging technology are discussed and the issues concerning small animal care during imaging are highlighted.