Sunday, 22 July 2012

An update on alternative radiopharmaceuticals for medical imaging

An update on alternative radiopharmaceuticals for medical imaging: ...even if there are advances in medical imaging that may not require the production of 99mTc by NRU reactor, there is still need for a new research reactor to replace aging NRU for neutron scattering and nuclear R&D... "Medical imaging is one of the fastest growing fields in medicine. The development of innovative new imaging modalities, contrast agents, molecular probes and radiopharmaceuticals has significantly improved our ability to study biological structure and function in health and disease, and continues to contribute to the evolution of medical care. Imaging technologies that require the use of radiopharmaceuticals such as positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) fall within the field of nuclear medicine, a small but essential sub-specialization within the field of medical imaging. It is estimated that about 1.5 million nuclear medicine procedures are performed annually in Canada. Over 80% of all nuclear medicine investigations involve radiopharmaceuticals labeled with Technetium-99m (99mTc). The 99mTc is produced from Molybdenum-99 using generators manufactured by just two companies in North America: Covidien and Lantheus. The world's current supply of 99mTc is remarkably fragile, relying on the continued operation of just a handful of aging nuclear reactors that produce the Molybdenum-99. About 20% of the world's supply of Molybdenum-99 is made in Canada at the National Research Universal (NRU) nuclear reactor at Chalk River. Although alternative, non-reactor technologies for producing molybdenum-99 and its medically-useful daughter 99mTc have been known for many years, this technology has never been commercially developed as there has always been a plentiful supply of nuclear reactors around the globe."..."The emergency closure of the NRU in 2007 led to a significant disruption in the supply of Molybdenum-99 and the cancellation of large numbers of medical procedures due to the ensuing shortage of 99mTc. Although the shutdown was for a relatively brief period, the crisis highlighted the fragility of the Molybdenum-99 supply chain. The second closure of the NRU in 2009 resulted in a major interruption in supply, leading to a serious situation in the health care system due to challenges accessing Technetium-labeled radiopharmaceuticals. The continuing uncertainties in the supply of medical isotopes, especially 99mTc, caused both the clinical and biomedical research communities to look for alternative ways to produce the 99mTc needed for diagnosis and clinical care and also to explore the potential of alternative medical isotopes to replace 99mTc as the radiopharmaceutical label of choice in certain clinical procedures."

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