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The function of the Small Animal Imaging Program (SAIP) is to collaborate with NCI investigators in the development of: mouse models, new molecular imaging probes for early detection and therapy, monitor tumors in vivo, and perform drug efficacy studies utilizing in vivo imaging techniques. In addition, the SAIP collaborates with the NCI Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI) Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL) to analyze nanoplatforms as part of the cascade assay and assist the NCI/Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnoses (DCTD) initiatives in developing standards in small animal imaging, integrate imaging into drug development, and develop partnerships with industry for technology and drug development.

An overview and comparison of the SAIP "In Vivo" imaging modalities are listed below (Table 1).

Modality Image Resolution (μm) Image Depth (mm) 3D capability (Tomography) Probe Sensitivity (mol/L) Dynamic Studies Scanner
X-Ray CT 5 * Yes N/A No See nuclear scanners
MRI 50 * Yes 10-3 to 10-5 Yes Philips 3T
Nuclear: PET 1400 * Yes 10-11 to 10-12 Yes Siemens Inveon PET/CT
Nuclear: SPECT 500 - 2000 * Yes 10-10 to 10-11 Difficult Bioscan NanoSPECT/CT
Ultrasound 30 Dependent on Transducer Limited
(Small volume)
(not well characterized)
Yes VisualSonics 2100 (Phased Array)
Photo-acoustic 44-75 < 20 Limited
(Small volume)
10-7 Yes VisualSonics LAZR
Optical: Bioluminescence >1000 Limited
10-15 to 10-17 Limited Xenogen Spectrum
Optical: Fluorescence >1000 Dependent on Fluorophore wavelength Limited
10-9 to 10-12 No CRi Maestro
Xenogen Spectrum




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