DNA integrity is constantly challenged by endogenous and exogenous factors that can alter the DNA sequence, leading to mutagenesis, aberrant transcriptional activity, and cytotoxicity. Left unrepaired, damaged DNA can ultimately lead to the development of cancer. To overcome this threat, a series of complex mechanisms collectively known as the DNA damage response (DDR) are able to detect the various types of DNA damage that can occur and stimulate the appropriate repair process. Each DNA damage repair pathway leads to the recruitment, upregulation, or activation of specific proteins within the nucleus, which, in some cases, can represent attractive targets for molecular imaging. Given the well-established involvement of DDR during tumorigenesis and cancer therapy, the ability to monitor these repair processes non-invasively using nuclear imaging techniques may facilitate the earlier detection of cancer and may also assist in monitoring response to DNA damaging treatment. This review article aims to provide an overview of recent efforts to develop PET and SPECT radiotracers for imaging of DNA damage repair proteins.
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