New Probes Open Windows on Gene Expression, and More

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Science  15 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5366, pp. 1010-1011
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5366.1010

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Researchers around the world are furiously competing to launch a new age in medical imaging that looks beyond general anatomy into the molecular workings of tissues. By developing clever probes that give off a detectable signal when they encounter a specific molecule, scientists hope to pin down a tissue's exact metabolic state; they have already used this strategy to track the transfer of genes in gene-therapy experiments and map the distribution of an animal's own proteins. Down the road, researchers hope to be able to perform such feats as imaging the effectiveness of cancer therapy and mapping when different genes get turned on during development--all without removing tissue with a scalpel and testing it in the lab.