August 10, 2022

Kaeri sets up automatic isotope production system for Zr-89

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (Kaeri) announced Aug. 3 that it has built a system that automatically produces two types of zirconium-89 (Zr-89), a radioactive isotope for cancer diagnosis. Zr-89 has a half-life of 3.3 days, which is relatively longer than other isotopes, so it can stay in the body for a long time in imaging diagnostics such as PET (Positron Emission Tomography ).

Thanks to these properties, it can be effectively applied to research such as cancer diagnosis, immunotherapy and confirmation of the behavior of nanomaterials in the body.

A research team led by Dr. Park Jeong-hoon of Kaeri has developed an automated device capable of simultaneously mass-producing two types of pharmaceutical raw materials in the form of Zr-89 oxalate and chloride. By using the self-developed nuclide separation program, the separation process of zirconium-89 production can be automated, and zirconium-89 can be produced with one button operation. He explained that the two formulations, including Zr-89 oxalate and chloride, produced using an automated device, are of the highest quality in the world with a high purity of 99.9%.

The daily output is more than 100 mCi (millicurie), which can be supplied to about 20 major domestic hospitals and research institutes.

The research team plans to transfer the technology to Futurechem, a company specializing in the development of new radiopharmaceuticals. Lee Nam-ho, director of the Kaeri Advanced Radiation Research Center, said, “Zirconium-89 is a drug with great potential in the global market, and export to China continues.

Photo: Zirconium-89 oxalate and chloride production device (Photo credit: Kaeri)