Radioiodide uptake (RAIU) in thyroid follicular epithelial cells, mediated by a plasma membrane transporter, sodium iodide symporter (NIS), provides a first step mechanism for thyroid cancer detection by radioiodide injection and effective radioiodide treatment for patients with invasive, recurrent, and / or metastatic thyroid cancers after total thyroidectomy. NIS gene transfer to tumor cells may significantly and specifically enhance internal radioactive accumulation of tumors following radioiodide administration, and result in better tumor control. NIS gene transfers have been successfully performed in a variety of tumor animal models by either plasmid-mediated transfection or virus (adenovirus or retrovirus)-mediated gene delivery. These animal models include nude mice xenografted with human melanoma, glioma, breast cancer or prostate cancer, rats with subcutaneous thyroid tumor implantation, as well as the rat intracranial glioma model. In these animal models, non-invasive imaging of in vivo tum ors by gamma camera scintigraphy after radioiodide or technetium injection has been performed successfully, suggesting that the NIS can serve as an imaging reporter gene for gene therapy trials. In addition, the tumor killing effects of 131I after NIS gene transfer have been demonstrated in in vitro clonogenic assays and in vivo radioiodide therapy studies, suggesting that NIS gene can also serve as a therapeutic agent when combined with radioiodide injection. Better NIS-mediated tumor treatment by radioiodide requires a more efficient and specific system of gene delivery with better retention of radioiodide in tumor. Results thus far are, however, promising, and suggest that NIS gene transfer followed by radioiodide treatment will allow non-invasive in vivo imaging to assess the outcome of gene therapy and provide a therapeutic strategy for a variety of human cancers.