Imaging Agents

Advances in Diagnostic Imaging Agents: From Radiography to Microbubbles and Beyond

Imaging Agents are used to visualise the function of internal organs and perform clinical analysis and medical procedures. Diagnostic imaging produces visual information about the internal parts of the human body and helps diagnose the disease state.  Radiology is the main user of radiopharmaceuticals, and several techniques are used to diagnose disease.

These medical imaging modalities include the use of X-ray radiography, ultrasound (US), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and nuclear medicine involving positron emission tomography (PET) and single-emission computed tomography (SPECT).

Diagnostic imaging agents are referred to as contrast agents administered to the patient during the imaging process of the body.  To diagnose the disease, these radiopharmaceuticals emit energy through X-rays, gamma rays, sound waves, radio waves (MRI), and radioactive particles.

New contrasting agents are being developed based on microbubbles, which will be safe and effective in the clinical setting. These microbubble contrast agents will help to compete with the highest-selling diagnostic imaging agents:

Omnipaque is a radiographic contrast medium for myelography and is used in computed tomography for myelography, cisternography and ventriculography; Visipaque (radiopaque contrast agent used in CT scanning for diagnosis of certain disorders of the brain, blood vessels, heart and kidneys); Iopamiron (used in angiography to evaluate the cardiovascular system); Ultravist (used in intravenous, brain computer tomography (CT) and CT pulmonary angiograms (CTPAs); Cardiolite (technetium-99m SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging agent used for coronary artery disease).

The next generation of imaging agents should have greater selectivity for biochemical targets, improved safety profile, good ratio of specific to non-specific binding and increased signal amplification for diagnostic imaging processing and radiology.

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