Due to rapid development in molecular biological tools and recent development of extremely sensitive photon detectors, Fluorescent imaging (FLI) and Bioluminescent imaging (BLI) can be applied to study cell and tissue specific promoters but also to follow trafficking and fate of GFP and/or Luciferase expressing cells, apoptosis, protein-protein interaction and gene-transfer. In cancer research, these applications have allowed quantitative measurements of tumour progression and metastasis and treatment response. Due to its high sensitivity FLI, and especially BLI, are extremely useful for early detection of micro-metastases and minimal residual disease states in animal models.
Technologies based on optics are relatively recent and have been so far restricted to animal research. However, most may be adaptable to clinical use, in the near future for imaging tissues like breast and skin or internal organs like bladder and intestine using fibre optics.