A brief review of reporter gene imaging in oncolytic virotherapy and gene therapy

Susanna C. Concilio, Stephen J. Russell, Kah Whye Peng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Reporter gene imaging (RGI) can accelerate development timelines for gene and viral therapies by facilitating rapid and noninvasive in vivo studies to determine the biodistribution, magnitude, and durability of viral gene expression and/or virus infection. Functional molecular imaging systems used for this purpose can be divided broadly into deep-tissue and optical modalities. Deep-tissue modalities, which can be used in animals of any size as well as in human subjects, encompass single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), and functional/molecular magnetic resonance imaging (f/mMRI). Optical modalities encompass fluorescence, bioluminescence, Cerenkov luminescence, and photoacoustic imaging and are suitable only for small animal imaging. Here we discuss the mechanisms of action and relative merits of currently available reporter gene systems, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of deep tissue versus optical imaging systems and the hardware/reagents that are used for data capture and processing. In light of recent technological advances, falling costs of imaging instruments, better availability of novel radioactive and optical tracers, and a growing realization that RGI can give invaluable insights across the entire in vivo translational spectrum, the approach is becoming increasingly essential to facilitate the competitive development of new virus- and gene-based drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-109
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Therapy Oncolytics
StatePublished - Jun 25 2021


  • Cerenkov luminescence
  • MRI
  • PET
  • bioluminescence
  • fluorescence
  • gene therapy
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • molecular imaging
  • nuclear imaging
  • oncolytic virotherapy
  • optical imaging
  • photoacoustic imaging
  • positron emission tomography
  • reporter gene imaging
  • single photon emission computed tomography
  • viral vectors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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