Radiopharmaceuticals – the secret weapon of nuclear medicine

Labeled with radioactive isotopes, medical preparations from the arsenal of nuclear medicine have unique properties: they allow us to accurately study not only the image, but also the function of individual tissues and organs. At the same time, they are safe and effective – including in the treatment of the most common diseases, which are now being treated with increasing precision thanks to them.

Radiopharmaceuticals are medical preparations that contain isotopes of radioactiveorcze, ktore used in the diagnosis and radioisotope therapy of the most common diseases. Radiopharmaceuticals are used, among other things, in research of diseasesob thyroid, liver and drog żolungs, kidneys, heart, lungs and mozgu. These preparations, thanks to their unique properties, make it possible to visualize not only the appearance of a given organ, but also to trace its functioning.

– This odroThe study is carried out using radiopharmaceuticalsow from procedures such as computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography – mowi dr. hab. Eng. Renata Mikolajczak of the National Center for Nuclear Research, Radioisotope Centeroin POLATOM. – Radiopharmaceuticals are the secret weapon of nuclear medicine – Thanks to them, it is possible to provide effective, comprehensive, safe and increasingly precise diagnosis and therapy of diseasesob endocrinology, cardiology and oncology – Mikolajczak adds.

How they are made?

Currently, more than 100 radiopharmaceuticals are used in therapeutic practice in the worldow, in whichoThe properties of the isotope are usedoin radiationoric, coming from a reactor or cyclotron.

– To obtain radiopharmaceuticalsow need significant amounts of radioactive substances. In order to give them the form of a drug, they are subjected to obrochemotherapy. Radiopharmaceuticals, like all other drugs, must be safe for the patient, their manufacture must meet the highest quality rigor. This is confirmed by the results of ongoing quality control – we check on an ongoing basis whether the produced radiopharmaceutical meets the appropriate quantitative and qualitative standards. You have to act fast, because radioactivity is an isotopeoin radiationotworatory decreases according to the laws of physics, while patients wait for drugs – explains Mikolajczak.

– Importantly, the demand for radiopharmaceuticals is constantly increasing, the preparationow are being produced more and more, and consequently production processes require the use of increasingly complex tools. Due to the nature of radiopharmaceuticalsoIn, they are produced on the fly and delivered directly to the individualolnych centersoin health care. Logistics and organization related to the production of preparationsoIn radiopharmaceuticals, it is therefore a much more complicated process than the production, storage and transport of drugsoin, for example, in pill form – Mikolajczak adds.

How it works?

A study using radiopharmaceuticalsoIn diagnosis begins with the introduction of radioisotopesoThe radioactive substance is used for organow and tissues. Radiopharmaceuticals are usually administered intravenously, sometimes – orally. It is necessary to wait a certain time, depending on the biologically active part of the radiopharmaceutical, for the mohe head to get involved in the metabolic process under study. The time depends on the radiopharmaceuticals administeredow, usually ranges from a dozen to several dozen minutes. The radiation of the isotope accumulated in the tissues is then observed, whichowhich is detected and tracked by external detectors – gamma cameras.

For the purposes ofoAmong others, isotopes of technetium (99mTc), iodine (131I, 123I), fluorine (18F) or gallium (68Ga) are used in diagnostics. Radioisotopes introduced into the patient’s body disappear over time due to physical decay, metabolism and excretion from the body. In clinical practice, radioisotopes with krotkim physical period poThe shelf life of radiopharmaceuticals is usually several tens of minutes, several hours or several days.

Safe diagnosis and effective therapy

In diagnostics, radiopharmaceuticals containing a radioisotope in a minimal amount are used, whichora is necessary to visualize the examined tissue. Similarly safe and effective is therapy using radiopharmaceuticalsow. It is mostly used in the treatment of canceroIn neuroendocrine, prostate cancer and other oncological conditions. – Radioactive iodineorczy (131I), which accumulates in the thyroid gland, is used in the treatment of cancer of this gland, and compounds containing a phosphorus radioisotope (32P) have been used in the treatment of myeloid leukemia, lymphosarcoma, malignant granuloma and melanoma. Gold radioisotope (198Au) has been used to treat chronic leukemia, peritoneal and pleural cancer – mowi dr hab. n. med. Bogdan Malkowski, president of the Polish Society of Nuclear Medicine.

– Therapy using radiopharmaceuticalsow is precise, safe and as comfortable as possible for the patient, as it does not involve prolonged hospital stays. There are not many contraindications to the use of this therapy, although the doctor always qualifies the patient for the treatment individually. After the administration of the radiopharmaceutical, the patient goes home – there is no need for hospitalization, as the radiation from the dose received does not endanger the patient, nor does it endanger those close to the patient – provided medical advice is followed – Małkowski points out.

– One can lead a normal lifestyle – work professionally, take care of household chores, go for walks, do necessary shopping, etc. This is an undoubted advantage of radiopharmaceutical therapy – the patient does not have to face additional restrictions – Malkowski adds.

Straight to the target

The growing medical importance of precise dobor dosage of the radiopharmaceutical to the needs of a particular patient – zaroin terms of research, as well as treatment with the use of preparationsoin isotope-labeled radiopharmaceuticalsorczymi. – Today, it is becoming an everyday clinical reality to be able to administer to a patient exactly the right dose of radiopharmaceutical, whichora is needed by him – no smaller, no larger – not averaged, standardized, as was the case until recently – mowi prof. dr hab. n. med. Leszek Krolicki.

– Similarly, in therapy, we now have the ability to test whether the isotopic drug used will work as expected in a given patient or not. We can precisely select the dose of the preparation, whichora will help achieve the expected clinical benefits and not expose the patient to ineffective procedures. This is nothing more than personalized precision medicine, in which theohe radiopharmaceuticals will play an increasingly important role – Krolicki adds.