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Medal-awarded isotopes for production of new radiopharmaceuticals for cancer treatment

90Y and 177Lu hot chambers (photo NCBJ)
90Y and 177Lu hot chambers (photo NCBJ)
NCBJ scientists have developed innovative technological solutions to produce 90Y and 177Lu radionuclides. Polish invention awarded by international community with a silver medal during the “Innova 2012” Fair in Brussels is soon going to be implemented on an industrial scale, giving more hope to ever increasing number of oncological patients all over the world.

Innovative  solutions in  production technology of the 90Y (yttrium) and 177Lu (lutetium) radioisotopes will help to obtain new medicines for cancer treatment. These solutions have been worked out in NCBJ Radioisotope Centre POLATOM within the framework of a three-year long project partly financed from the Innovative Economy Programme  of the European Regional Development Fund. The 7.8 million PLN worth project is soon to be finished.

Innovation has been awarded with a silver medal during the “Innova 2012” 61st International Innovation, Research and New Technology Fair recently held in Brussels. Polish researchers have shown that both radio isotopes (so-far produced only at a small scale) in combination with such biologically active substances as peptides and monoclonal antibodies may form extremely effective medicines to cure some cancers. New radioisotopes will be a base to produce innovative radiopharmaceuticals capable to effectively and safely treat cancer cases in face of which medicine was so far helpless. New technological line dedicated for production of these radioisotopes has been developed in POLATOM labs in Świerk. Works to start pilot production are in progress. The first produced batches and a complete analytical/technological/validation documentation will be a basis to apply for formal registration of both radionuclides as radiopharmaceutical precursors.

„The new radioisotope preparations have been named by us Itrapol and Lutapol. They are precursors necessary to produce radiopharma­ceuticals i.e. highly specialized medicines useful in oncology. They will help to devise more effective ways to fight cancer.” – explains Associate Professor. Renata Mikołajczak, Radioisotpe Centre POLATOM Director Proxy for  Scientific Matters. – „Technological solutions we have developed may be used to produce both  radionuclides at an industrial scale. Increased supply of  radioisotopes to the market should increase availability of the derivative cancer treatment radiopharmaceuticals, and help to disseminate new forms of internal radiotherapy that are capable to improve quality of life of several cancer patients”.

The developed technology features high specific activity (that directly influences efficacy of radiotherapy) and high chemical/radiological purity (i.e. low level of contamination with other ions/nuclides) of the 90Y (Itrapol) and 177Lu (Lutapol) preparations. Besides, the applied state-of-the art solutions limit amount of the by-produced chemical/radioactive waste.

„Production of pilot batches of Itrapol and Lutapol will be a world-class success. Our works are a perfect example of how scientific achievements may find their applications in every-day life, in this case in a particularly sensitive area related to saving human lives” – points out Professor Grzegorz Wrochna, NCBJ Director General – „Isotopes produced for medicine in research reactors are an exemplification of benefits brought about by ionizing radiation. Without the radiation the progress observed in medicine would not be possible”.

According to Polish Society of Endocrinology, global occurrence of endocrine tumors is on the level of 30 cases per year per 1 million population. That means more than 17,000 new cases each year are diagnosed in Europe populated by about 577 millions people. Nuclear medicine is currently one of the fastest growing branch among all medical sciences. Intensive development observed in isotope diagnostics is in particular attributable to the PET technique. Radionuclide  therapeutic techniques are developing also very quickly. Growth of demand for radiopharmaceuticals is a world-wide trend: in US the growth rate is estimated for about 30% annually, similar growth of interest is also observed in Poland.

Pictures

90Y and 177Lu hot chambers (photo NCBJ)