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Radiopharmaceuticals for Diagnostics


Development of Modern Technology fo Radiopharmaceuticals Production for Diagnostics

Tech Area / Field

  • FIR-ISO/Isotopes/Fission Reactors

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Khlopin Radium Institute, Russia, St Petersburg


  • European Commission / Joint Research Center / Institute for Transuranium Elements, Germany, Karlsruhe\nLockheed Martin Corporation / Bechtel BWXT Idaho, USA, ID, Idaho Falls

Project summary

It is impossible to imagine the modern disease diagnostics without radioisotopes application. The dynamic investigations of separate organs is the distinctive feature of the nuclear medicine methods. Moreover these methods allow to identify diseases long before their displays. The radionuclides iodine-123 and technetium-99m are practically ideal for nuclear medicine. Compounds, labeled by these nuclides are used for examinations of virtually all human organs. They have the energies of gamma-quantum (159 and 140 keV respectively) most convenient for registration; they are the most safe and are even applied to examination of pregnant women and newborns; they practically do not cause environmental pollution. For this reason iodine-123 and technetium-99m were the first radiopharmaceuticals produced by the Radium Institute for the first time. The Radium Institute cyclotron MGC-20 is used to produce iodine-123, and technetium-99m is produced by means of neutron irradiation of molybdenum-98 in the Leningrad Nuclear Power Station reactor. Today the Radium Institute is the only producer of medical radioisotopes for Northwest of Russia. The qualities of produced radiopharmaceuticals are just as good as the foreign analogues', however, the technology of their manufacture is not perfect because of the labor expenses, danger for workers and limited possibility to satisfy the needs of St.-Petersburg in modern radiopharmaceuticals.

The goal of this project is creation of modern radiopharmaceutical manufacture which will be able to ensure employment of the highly skilled scientists (physicists, radiochemists, accelerator specialists), earlier connected with the weapon development. The organized manufacture will supply medical centers of St.Petersburg with diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals.

Achievement of the project purpose will be carried out on various directions.

1. Improvement of the existing technologies aimed occupational dose reduction, increase of operations fastness, environmental protection and reductions of the expensive raw material losses. Basic attention will be paid to development and creation of devices allowing to automate as much as possible operations at all stages of technological process. Investigations of a dependence of the final product quality on isotope composition of raw material will be carried out.
2. Development of new technologies will include development of manufacture of radiopharmaceuticals labeled by iodine-123, and development of new ways of technetium-99m production.

Development of two radiopharmaceutilals, metaiodobenzylguanidine and paraiodo-phenylpentadecanoic acid, labeled by iodine-123 will be carried out. They are widely used now on the West and give unique opportunities for diagnostics of heart, brain and other diseases. In Russia these developments will be carried out for the first time.

Technetium-99m is produced now by means of sorption generators. Molybdenum-99 is a mother nuclide for these generators. The manufacture of molybdenum-99, which is a product of uranium fission, is accompanied by significant ecological problems. Therefore search for alternate ways of technetium-99m and molybdenum-99 production is under consideration in the world. It is possible to consider two approaches of molybdenum-99 production: 1) irradiation by reactor neutrons of highly enriched (more than 98%) molybdenum-98 and 2) irradiation by a cyclotron beam of enriched molybdenum-100. In both cases expensive materials are used. Therefore within the framework of the project it is supposed to solve a problem of use of stable molybdenum - a by-product of high-level waste with high content of isotopes molybdenum-98 and molybdenum-100. Irradiation of this molybdenum by neutrons will give us molybdenum-99 only. But irradiation by cyclotron beam will allow to produce simultaneously molybdenum-99 and technetium-99m. Thus, medical centres, having a cyclotron will be able to produce necessary amount of technetium-99m without high-level wastes. It is known that the high concentration of molybdenum in high-level wastes complicates their storage and processing. Therefore the molybdenum extraction from these solutions will promote utilization of waste, that is urgent for those countries, where reprocessing of nuclear fuel is planned.

3. Improvement of the cyclotron operation is an indispensable condition of a reliable radiopharmaceuticals production. During target irradiation with cyclotron beam it is very important to have a constancy of irradiation parameters - energy, intensity and shape of the beam - for a long time. The maintenance of reliability of cyclotron operation will be promoted by creation of an automatic control system, increase of reliability of inpidual units, the high-frequency generator in particular.

The main results of the project fulfillment will be as follows:

· improvement of the existing production technology of radiopharmaceuticals labeled by iodine-123 and gallium-67;
· technology of utilization of stable molybdenum - a by-product of nuclear fuel reprocessing - for technetium-99m production;
· technologies for two radiopharmaceuticals labeled by iodine-123: metaiodobenzyl-guanidine and paraiodophenylpentadecanoic acid, that will be used in Russia for the first time;
· improvement of operation of the cyclotron used for iodine-123 and gallium-67 production.


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