Applications of molecular imaging in drug development

The world of healthcare is rapidly evolving. With an ageing population, comes a significant increase in cancers, metabolic diseases and neurodegenerative disorders. New drug candidates are required; however drug development remains a lengthy and expensive process, with the average timeline now over 10 years and costs continuing to rise…

Medical imaging techniques provide non-invasive imaging of the body and can be used to track administered molecules (such as the drug candidates) or to use known radiotracers to report on biological processes that inform on the drug action or progression of the disease.

The use of molecular imaging in drug development is expanding.1 It has been a feature of preclinical development for many years, and the number of available radiotracers targeting biomarkers, which report on drug mechanism of action, has increased with an expanding knowledge of the biochemical processes in disease.2

After some high-profile drugs candidates not reaching approval, the desire to avoid late-stage failures in drug development is increasing and it is driving the interest in the use of molecular imaging. This is particularly relevant in the later stages of drug development to obtain accurate ‘in man’ pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic information, as well as reporting on biochemical or metabolic processes to determine efficacy.

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