JNM: Cyclotron could be alternative to reactors in Tc-99m production

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Cyclotrons that are capable of producing large quantities of technetium-99m (Tc-99m) would effectively complement the supply of medical isotopes traditionally provided by nuclear reactors, while sustaining the expanding need for other medical isotopes, including short-lived positron emitters for PET, according to this month's Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

In their research, Johan van Lier, PhD, from Sherbrooke Molecular Imaging Center, Universite de Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada, and colleagues compared the chemical, radio-chemical and biologic properties of cyclotron and generator-derived Tc-99m for common nuclear medical procedures.

“Our findings from this research show that medical cyclotrons can produce clinical-grade Tc-99m isotopes that can be used as a substitute for nuclear reactor--derived Tc-99m needed to sustain nuclear medicine research and diagnostic testing,” said van Lier, the lead academic researcher on the project.

“The results of our quality control tests and in vivo experiments support the concept that cyclotron-produced Tc-99m is suitable for preparation of USP-compliant, GMP grade Tc-99m radiopharmaceuticals,” wrote van Lier and colleagues.

Global interruptions of Mo-99 supply, aging reactors and the high costs of their maintenance, radioactive waste processing and final reactor decommissioning make the use of safe and relatively low-cost cyclotron technology more attractive today for regional supply of Tc-99m and other medical isotopes while facilitating the expanding role of high-resolution 3D PET in diagnostic nuclear medicine, concluded the researchers.