Oncodesign Biotechnology, 20, rue Jean Mazen, BP 27627, 21076 Dijon Cedex
The last ten years have seen major discoveries in cancer research related to the availability of new means of investigation, particularly in the genomic area. The identification of original targets on which hundreds of thousands of compounds are tested in vitro allows to propose new active molecules. The selection of candidate therapies is performed using animal models that are the closest as possible to the cancer pathology. In this context, imaging techniques using machines dedicated to the laboratory mouse and rat could play an important role in the drug selection process. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) or positron emission tomography (PET) allow rapid access to morphological, functional and molecular information in vivo. Imaging methods are multiple including within one single technology and the information obtained are various and complementary. The choice of the imaging modality varies as a function of the question asked by the biologist and the information needed, depending essentially on the best compromise between spatial and temporal resolutions and sensitivity as well. A second matter of interest lies in the development using imaging techniques of markers of the early activity of non-cytotoxic compounds in order to transfer them into clinical development. The objective will be to offer new drugs to the clinicians with a potential of activity that will be determined earlier and with more efficacy in patients. The purpose of this review is therefore to evaluate on the basis of adapted examples what imaging will bring to preclinical research in the next years. Will molecular imaging be able to respond to the needs of cancer researchers and what are the possibilities offered by translational research to validate and transfer these techniques from the laboratory to the clinic?