Immunotherapy constitutes a paradigm shift in cancer treatment. Its FDA approval for several indications has yielded improved prognosis for cases where traditional therapy has shown limited efficiency. However, many patients still fail to benefit from this treatment modality, and the exact mechanisms responsible for tumor response are unknown. Noninvasive treatment monitoring is crucial for longitudinal tumor characterization and the early detection of non-responders. While various medical imaging techniques can provide a morphological picture of the lesion and its surrounding tissue, a molecular-oriented imaging approach holds the key to unraveling biological effects that occur much earlier in the immunotherapy timeline. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a highly versatile imaging modality, where the image contrast can be tailored to emphasize a particular biophysical property of interest using advanced engineering of the imaging pipeline. In this review, recent advances in molecular-MRI based cancer immunotherapy monitoring are described. Next, the presentation of the underlying physics, computational, and biological features are complemented by a critical analysis of the results obtained in preclinical and clinical studies. Finally, emerging artificial intelligence (AI)-based strategies to further distill, quantify, and interpret the image-based molecular MRI information are discussed in terms of perspectives for the future.
- artificial intelligence (AI)
- chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST)
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)
- molecular imaging
- oncolytic virotherpay
- treatment response