Preclinical imaging systems can visualize and monitor biological processes in a way that was inconceivable just a few years ago. This has been made possible because of the optimization of technologies that previously were used only in clinical medicine, such as CT, MRI and ultrasound, as well as molecular imaging and more.According to the report US Preclinical Small Animal Imaging Markets, recently released by Frost & Sullivan, these advancements are the result of initiatives from the NIH and from the FDA. Five years ago, the NIH made molecular imaging a priority in its road map for medical research. Subsequently, the FDA launched the 2003 Critical Path to New Medical Products initiative. The US preclinical small-animal imaging market is expected to more than triple in a seven-year period, according to a report from Frost & Sullivan. Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2007.Preclinical imaging is used to identify soft tissue pathology, to monitor gene expression, to image vascular symptoms, to visualize tumor cells, to quantify bone density, to discover neurological anomalies and more.The challenge remains, however, to raise awareness among suppliers and the general public of the benefits of preclinical imaging. Distribution is currently through direct sales and OEM suppliers to academia, government, pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms. The NIH’s Imaging Probe Development Center, for example, makes specific molecular imaging probes for the institutes’ scientists in the event that suppliers are not available. The Frost & Sullivan report indicates that additional funds are needed from federal and private research organizations because preclinical work is performed primarily by academic and government researchers who depend on grant money for support. Additionally, Frost & Sullivan research analyst Subha B. Basu encourages better collaboration between academia and industry and recommends that companies institute peer-reviewed grants specifically for preclinical imaging work.Basu also suggests that the market take an applications approach, whereby preclinical manufacturers describe to users what sort of imaging can be performed in a range of experiments. The report estimates that revenues for the preclinical small-animal imaging market totaled $172.5 million in 2005 and could more than triple in seven years, potentially reaching $556 million in 2012.