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Market foresighting: molecular imaging


Molecular imaging is an interdisciplinary field focused on the non invasive measurement and characterisation of biological, cellular, and molecular processes as they occur in living organisms. This market foresighting report, one of a series of foresighting documents which helped ITI to define and prioritise their strategic funding, identified commercially attractive areas which could be exploited through technical innovation and the generation of protectable intellectual assets. The report aimed to: provide a definition of molecular imaging; discuss the market dynamics; look at current imaging modalities and the application of fusion technology; and consider the molecular imaging market in Scotland.


This foresighting report follows on from ITI’s environmental scan on the medtech sector, which identified molecular imaging as a key area for innovation with significant market opportunities. The report provides examples of molecular imaging developments in technology, such as Computer Tomography (CT), Functional Imaging, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Single Positron Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), as well as a wider discussion of the molecular imaging healthcare market.


The report finds that molecular imaging represents a paradigmic shift in the focus of medical imaging from anatomy and physiology to the study of metabolic and physiological processes, often in real time. Within healthcare, molecular imaging has two main applications: as a research and development (R&D) tool; and for clinical diagnosis. Molecular imaging presents the opportunity to commercialise valuable know how and tools currently resident to a large extent within academia. While Scotland has the necessary building blocks, such as infrastructure, skills and know how, to exploit molecular imaging, the report considers that Scotland lacks appropriate commercial vehicles at present. The report suggests that the preclinical animal market is an exciting near-term opportunity which circumvents some of the regulatory and cost hurdles previously outlined. Moreover, the use of discarded compounds for which safety data exists may help to reduce the cost of developing tracers.


The report suggests that opportunities exist in tracer development, including the exploitation of current tracers in other applications and the development of novel tracers. A variety of technologies including antibody fragments, quantum dots, amino acids and other biological molecules could be leveraged to develop novel tracers and potentially targeted tracers to molecular imaging. There are also opportunities in technological innovations in new modalities as stand alone or bolt on applications. Performance of current modalities could also be improved, particularly in combining modalities for improved R&D efficiency or clinical diagnosis.

Author ITI Life Sciences
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Sectors
    Life Sciences