At the In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center (ICMIC) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), we have centralized multiple small animal imaging modalities including MicroSPECT, Optical imaging, MicroCT and Ultrasound together with a unit for probe development and a vivarium for the housing of animals in one laboratory. Different research teams collaborate in an interdisciplinary research effort which encompasses the development and validation of innovative core technologies, their application in preclinical translational research and the introduction of these emerging technologies into clinical diagnostic imaging practice.
Molecular imaging has become an essential tool in biomedical research. It builds on technical advances in both clinical and small animal imaging techniques and exploits specific molecular and cellular targets as the source of image contrast. Imaging modalities such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), PET (Positron Emission Tomography), SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography), CT (Computed Tomography) and Echography used in the clinic have been miniaturized and are currently used to study small animals with high spatial resolution. Non invasive optical imaging technologies such as Bioluminescence Imaging (BLI) and fluorescence imaging have been developed in small animals and contributed substantially to the development of the entire new field of ‘imaging gene expression’ using reporter genes. Different imaging strategies allow to probe complex biologic interactions dynamically, to study disease pathogenesis and to test the effect of therapeutic interventions in intact living systems over time.