Chronic musculoskeletal diseases such as arthritis, malignancy, chronic injury/ inflammation, and chronic musculoskeletal pain often pose challenges for current clinical imaging modalities. There is hope that a growing field, referred to as "molecular imaging," will shed new light on these chronic phenomenon as it aims to noninvasively detect special molecular and physiologic effects such as metabolism rate, specific proteins, cell death, and particular gene-related events. Molecular imaging represents recent advances in imaging technology, engineering, chemistry, molecular biology, and genetics that have coalesced into a multidisciplinary and multimodality effort. Molecular probes are currently being developed not only in radionuclide-based techniques but also in magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, ultrasound, and the emerging field of optical imaging. Furthermore, molecular imagers are fueling the development of novel molecular therapies and gene therapy, as tracking these efforts in living subjects is now possible with molecular imaging protocols.
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