New radiotherapy treatments developed by Polish researchers 

3 January 2012

Scientists at the Polish National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ)have developed two new radiopharmaceuticals for cancer treatment.

The invention has been awarded a silver medal during the Innova 2012 Fair in Brussels and is soon going to be produced on an industrial scale to give more options for oncology treatment.

The new technology to produce 90Y (yttrium) and177Lu (lutetium) radioisotopes was developed at the NCBJ Radioisotope Centre POLATOM within the framework of a three-year, 7.8 million PLN project partly financed from the Innovative Economy Programme of the European Regional Development Fund.

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. The new radioisotopes will be a base to produce innovative radiopharmaceuticals capable of effectively and safely treat cancer cases.

Production line

A new production line for these radioisotopes has been developed in POLATOM labs in Świerk, and work to start pilot production is 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 ie 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 (ie 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 tumours is about 30 cases per year per 1 million population. That means more than 17,000 new cases each year are diagnosed in Europe, with a population of 577 million 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.


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