Cell therapy has provided unprecedented opportunities for tissue repair and cancer therapy. Imaging tools for in vivo tracking of therapeutic cells have entered the clinic to evaluate therapeutic cell delivery and retention in patients. Thus far, clinical cell tracking studies have been a mere proof of principle of the feasibility of cell detection. This review centers around the main clinical queries associated with cell therapy: Have cells been delivered correctly at the targeted site of injection? Are cells still alive, and, if so, how many? Are cells being rejected by the host, and, if so, how severe is the immune response? For stem cell therapeutics, have cells differentiated into downstream cell lineages? Is there cell proliferation including tumor formation? At present, clinical cell tracking trials have only provided information on immediate cell delivery and short-term cell retention. The next big question is if these cell tracking tools can improve the clinical management of the patients and, if so, by how much, for how many, and for whom; in addition, it must be determined whether tracking therapeutic cells in every patient is needed. To become clinically relevant, it must now be demonstrated how cell tracking techniques can inform patient treatment and affect clinical outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging