Pre-clinical imaging refers to the process of visualizing living animals for research purposes including drug development. Several imaging systems are being used nowadays to be able to observe organs, tissues, cells, or the molecular makeup of animals as they respond to physiological or environmental changes. Modalities used for this purpose are typically non-invasive and some even use a digital x-ray.
One of the modalities often used for this purpose is micro-ultrasound. It provides real-time imaging and captures data up to 1000 frames per second. It can capture blood flow in vivo. Moreover, it has been able to aid cancer research.
Another system used in pre-clinical imaging is Micro-Photoacoustic tomography (PAT). It combines the sensitivity of optical imaging with the high spatial resolution of ultrasound imaging. It can separate between issue types, study hemodynamic responses, and even track molecular contrast agents conjugated to specific biological molecules.
There is also micro-magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It allows for good spatial resolution and also has excellent contrast resolution. This makes it great for distinguishing between normal and pathological tissues. Additionally, there is Micro-Computed tomography (CT). It works through x-rays and provides excellent spatial resolution and image acquisition times. Finally, Micro-positron emission tomography (PET) is used for this. It allows for an unlimited depth of imaging and a fast image acquisition time.