Society of Nuclear Medicine offers program to meet patients' current, future needs for radionuclides

04/04/05

Prominent biomedical organizations support national radionuclide production enhancement plan

RESTON, Va.--The Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM)--in recognizing that the future of radionuclide therapies and innovative research in molecular imaging/nuclear medicine depends on a reliable, affordable and sustainable domestic supply of radionuclides--has developed an important, new position paper on a proposed National Radionuclide Production Enhancement (NRPE) program.

This suggested program, which addresses the current and projected future shortfalls of radionuclides in this country, has gained the support of numerous professional organizations. They include the Academy of Molecular Imaging, the Academy of Radiology Research, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the American College of Nuclear Physicians, the American College of Radiology, the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, the Society of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences, the Council on Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals, the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, the Radiological Society of North America and the Society for Molecular Imaging. The American Medical Association has also gone on record of strongly supporting a national radionuclide production enhancement program.

"SNM wants to promote a unified voice for this plan, which when implemented will assure our nation of a stable and secure supply of radionuclides for future generations," explained SNM President Mathew L. Thakur, Ph.D., in the April issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine. Reports indicate that the majority of radionuclides used in applications every day are imported on a daily basis, and disruption of their availability threatens to interrupt tens of thousands of nuclear medicine procedures each day. Those radionuclides required for innovative research are either available only sporadically and in limited quantities or not available at all. New radionuclide production for diagnostic and therapeutic uses is not being developed, as the national radioisotope infrastructure is chronically underfunded at the Department of Energy (DOE).

The program suggests that federal funding of approximately $69$79 million over the next 10 years will be needed to implement identified goals, such as upgrading the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR), the only research facility in this country that provides reactor-produced radionuclides for therapeutic applications. In addition, the NRPE national program calls for developing the capability to produce large quantities of radionuclides to maintain existing technologies and stimulate future growth in the biomedical sciences. It suggests that medical and industrial users collaborate to assess radionuclide needs and transfer technologies to accelerate applications. It proposes that the transfer of commercially viable radionuclide programs be facilitated to the private sector and an investment be made in research and development to improve radionuclide production, processing and utilization.

"Radionuclides are part of the foundation supporting today's applied molecular/nuclear technology. The very duality of purpose of molecular imaging/nuclear medicine--offering both noninvasive diagnostic methodology and a powerful therapeutic modality--drives the exploration and development of new radiopharmaceuticals. Radiopharmaceutical research leads to a better understanding and improved or early diagnosis of human diseases and to the development of effective treatments and the monitoring of the effectiveness of existing ones. For these reasons, SNM is committed to gaining support for this program and promoting it at the federal level," said Thakur.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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