The deep imaging capability and optical absorption contrast offered by photoacoustic imaging promote the use of this technology in clinical applications. By exploiting the optical absorption properties of endogenous chromophores such as hemoglobin and lipid, molecular information at a depth of a few centimeters can be unveiled. This information shows promise to reveal lesions indicating early stage of various human diseases, such as cancer and atherosclerosis. In addition, the use of exogenous contrast agents can further extend the capability of photoacoustic imaging in clinical diagnosis and treatment. In this review, the current state of the art and applications of photoacoustic molecular probes will be critically reviewed, as well as some spearheading translational efforts that have taken place over the past 5 years. Some of the most critical barriers to clinical translation of this novel technology will be discussed, and some thoughts will be given on future endeavors and pathways.
- Contrast agents
- Molecular imaging