Transport

Transport and logistics is collecting knowledge about the many small and big obstacles to rapid transfer of radioactivity between the PRISMAP partners. At present the focus is on the transport to ARRONAX in France of Cu-64 samples for the intercomparison tests. Negotiations with airlines, transport companies, handling agents and authorities are under way to clarify the possibilities for short-term exceptions and also more general solutions in the future. When off-line mass separation is to be used regularly there is a double pressure on the rapid transfer, as activity first needs to go from reactor/cyclotron to the mass separator, and then from the separator to the end user.

An interim report describing the present transport situation will be delivered within the next few months.

Radiolanthanides

The use of radionuclides in nuclear medicine for diagnostics and therapy has significantly increased over the last decay. As a result, there is an urgent need to explore the usage of new radionuclides and relative innovative production methods. Depending on both half-life and decay emission, these radionuclides can be used for imaging, via positron emission tomography (PET) or single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and for therapy via α, β−, or conversion and /or Auger electron emission. Within each of these categories, there are several radiolanthanides with a variety of tissue ranges and half-lives offering attractive decay properties.

Production of sufficient amounts of high quality radiolanthanides requires systematic research in targetry, irradiation, radiochemistry and quality control. In some cases, it is difficult to produce carrier-free and/or radionuclidically pure products with conventional reactor-based or accelerator-driven production routes. Thus, the use of mass separators to produce carrier-free radionuclides for nuclear medicine is becoming an attractive method. In the frame of PRISMAP WP12, together with eleven universities and research laboratories, scientists are going to investigate the potential of novel radiolanthanides for nuclear medicine applications.

The main tasks of this WP are the development of specific radiochemical separation methods and preclinical research studies for novel radiolanthanides (149Tb, 152Tb, 155Tb, 161Tb, 175Yb, 153Sm, 167Tm, 165Er, 169Er, and 135La). In particular, an assessment of the quality control and radiolabelling processes of these radiolanthanides will be established. This information will be of great interest for developing clinical methods using different Tb radionuclides for theragnostic applications. The produced data will also implement the use of conversion/Auger-electron-emitting radionuclides towards the treatment of disseminated tumor cells and small metastases. Enhanced knowledge of these novel radiolanthanides and exploration of their therapeutic effects will be greatly appreciated by the scientific community of nuclear medicine and will pave the way towards more efficient cancer treatments.

Bringing metrology to PRISMAP

As PRISMAP looks to make a new generation of radionuclides easily accessible to researchers, it is vital that any pre-clinical and clinical research is underpinned by accurate and reproducible measurements of activity and dosimetry. In the clinical setting these measurements are typically performed using a radionuclide calibrator before administration to a patient, with traceability to a national metrology institute such as the National Physical Laboratory (UK) or the Institute of Radiation Physics (Switzerland). This traceability comes through the primary standardisation of activity and underpins all clinical use of any radiopharmaceutical. To this end, the translational data generation work package (WP11) will seek to provide this traceability for the novel radionuclides being generated by the PRISMAP consortium and disseminate these standards to the wider community. Alongside this development, accurate nuclear decay data will be determined to provide confidence in this fundamental data. A challenge of molecular radiotherapy is the understanding of the dose delivered at a cellular level and the biological effect of the emissions of a radionuclide to tumour cells. To improve our understanding, Riga Technical University (Lativia) will investigate the doses absorbed from the emissions from the radioactive decay of radionuclides using nano-dosimeters. The University of Oslo will look at developing a traceable link of the activity standards of the PRISMAP radionuclides to their relative biological effectiveness through the dose response. 

Radioisotope production research

Production of medical radionuclides has always benefited from high level technologies developed in the context of nuclear and accelerator physics research. In particular, some important ISOL technologies adopted for targets, ion sources, and isotope separation demonstrated an enormous potential for medical radionuclides. WP10-JRA2 is organised in three different tasks: target design and characterisation (task 1), ion sources (task 2), and isotope separation techniques (task 3). They are all oriented to improve the scientific instruments and the technologies required for the production of medical radionuclides. This approach will benefit from the collaboration among prestigious international research institutes in the framework of PRISMAP.

Task 1 and task 2 will mainly focus on the optimization of targets and ion sources, respectively, with the aim to increase as much as possible the production rate of specific medical radionuclides. In particular, new high performance materials will be studied and characterized, especially at high temperature ranges. New targets and ion sources will be designed making use of complex multiphysics simulation tools.

The object of task 3 is the strong enrichment of Ca and Ti isotopes from their natural abundance to an abundance useful for radionuclide production in reactors or cyclotrons. Indeed, production of theranostic scandium isotopes (43Sc, 44Sc, 44mSc and 47Sc) relies on the availability of highly enriched Ca or Ti isotopes respectively. With this in mind, task 3 will investigate the enrichment via laser-enhanced isotopically selective condensation, an innovative technique pioneered at EPFL and successfully used in the past for the enrichment of different isotopes.

As a concluding remark, it is clear that WP10-JRA2 will lay the foundations for a structured community of scientists and research engineers deeply focused on the technologies for the production of pure medical radionuclides.

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