Tremendous developments in the field of biomedical imaging in the past two decades have resulted in the transformation of anatomical imaging to molecular-specific imaging. The main approaches towards imaging at a molecular level are the development of high resolution imaging modalities with high penetration depths and increased sensitivity, and the development of molecular probes with high specificity. The development of novel molecular contrast agents and their success in molecular optical imaging modalities have lead to the emergence of molecular optical imaging as a more versatile and capable technique for providing morphological, spatial, and functional information at the molecular level with high sensitivity and precision, compared to other imaging modalities. In this review, we discuss a new class of dynamic contrast agents called magnetomotive molecular nanoprobes for molecular-specific imaging. Magnetomotive agents are superparamagnetic nanoparticles, typically iron-oxide, that are physically displaced by the application of a small modulating external magnetic field. Dynamic phase-sensitive position measurements are performed using any high resolution imaging modality, including optical coherence tomography (OCT), ultrasonography, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The dynamics of the magnetomotive agents can be used to extract the biomechanical tissue properties in which the nanoparticles are bound, and the agents can be used to deliver therapy via magnetomotive displacements to modulate or disrupt cell function, or hyperthermia to kill cells. These agents can be targeted via conjugation to antibodies, and in vivo targeted imaging has been shown in a carcinogeninduced rat mammary tumor model. The iron-oxide nanoparticles also exhibit negative T2 contrast in MRI, and modulations can produce ultrasound imaging contrast for multimodal imaging applications.
Keywords: Magnetomotion, molecular imaging, optical coherence tomography, hyperthermia, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, targeting, Tremendous, novel molecular