Polish center a global leader in radiopharmaceutical production

Much of the radioactive iodine 131 used in nuclear medicine worldwide is produced in Poland. Operating at the National Center for Nuclear Research, the Polatom Radioisotope Center exports iodine reagents and finished treatment products to customers on six continents. The isotopes needed for the production of radiopharmaceuticals are created at the Maria research reactor. Preparations containing iodine 131 are used primarily in therapy and diagnosis of thyroid diseases.

Hyperthyroidism of the thyroid gland producing two important hormones (T3 and T4) is a problem of approx. 1 proc. people. The disease causes a number of unpleasant discomforts, and in someoIn some cases it can pose a threat to life. The disease can be treated with radioisotopes, through the administration of preparationsow with radioactive iodine and pharmacologically or surgically. American Thyroid Association’s 2016 guidebook. In 7 out of 15 considered clinical situations of Graves-Basedow disease, being in 50-80 percent of the. casesoin the cause of hyperthyroidism, indicates radioisotope therapy as the most indicated (in 5 cases, surgical intervention is preferred, and in the other three, pharmacological). For contraindications to the use of radiopharmaceuticalsow only pregnancy and thyroiditis are recognized.

Preparations containing radioactive isotopes of iodine – primarily iodine 131 with an eight-day half-life – are used for radioisotope therapy, as well as for earlier diagnosis of lesions. Iodine in a natural wayob is accumulated in the thyroid gland. If it is radioactive iodineorczy, is the beta radiation emitted during the decay of theoin its nuclei, destroys part of the comorec tissues in its immediate vicinity and thusob reduces the intensity of hormone productionow.

Iodine 131 is obtained primarily in nuclear reactors. The most commonly used technology involves irradiating the tellurium. – Tellurium dioxide is placed in special storage tanks, whichore then inserted into the ductoin the isotopic reactor,” explains M.Sc. Ireneusz Owsianko, head of the Maria research reactor at the NCBJ in Świerk, Poland. – Neutrons from the fission reaction of nuclear fuel (U235) in the reactor, are absorbed by tellurium nuclei 130. The resulting tellurium 131 decays to iodine 131 via beta decay within minutes. The process of irradiating the material takes several days, with the time selected to achieve the most optimal iodine saturation possible. The resulting material is highly radioactiveorczy. It is reloaded in isotope chambers into special containersow and so prepared wanders a few hundred metersoon to our Radioisotope Centeroat Polatom, where it is subjected to further radiationobce.

OR Polatom is the coordinator and host of the entire process of manufacturing productsow containing iodine 131 at the NCBJ in Świerk. It is involved in the preparation of the material to be irradiated, followed by the extraction of iodine from the irradiated material and the formulation of the iodine into usable forms in the form of a reagentow chemical and final preparationoin radiopharmaceuticals, as well as sales to recipients of theoin six continents. – We separate the iodine produced in the reactor from the tellurium dioxide residue by sublimation, describes Dr. Dariusz Socha, director of OR Polatom. – We convert most of the obtained radioactive iodine 131 to the form of sodium iodide and the mainownie in this form is delivered to customers. It serves as a precursor for the production of radiopharmaceuticalsoIn recipient countriesow. We also produce finished medicinal products used zaroIn both advanced diagnostics and therapy.

NCBJ is an important global supplier of iodine 131 and manufacturer of radiopharmaceuticalsoin whichore they contain it. – Our weekly production of iodine 131 provides therapeutic and diagnostic doses for poł million patientow – emphasizes mgr. inż. Krzysztof Bańko, deputy director of the OR Polatom for the. commercial. – We are a majoroas a major producer: we supply the world market with about as much iodine as the other three major companies supply in total. We fully meet the Polish demand for ready-made iodine preparations, although, of course, deliveries to the Polish market are only part of our production.

An incredibly important circumstance in the production and distribution of iodine, is the fact that the half-life of iodine 131 is only 8 days. – Krohe short decay time of the isotope is a very good circumstance for patientsow as the source ofodła of destructive radiation introduced into their bodiesow are rapidly losing activity. At the same time, it is a major challenge for the manufacturersoin and physicians, as radiation preparationsoricides must be administered to patients within a few days of their production, and their activity on a particular day must be known precisely. Radiopharmaceuticals including rotion from the drugoin such as aspirin that it is impossible to stockpile themow. Our products on an ongoing basis are distributed by aircraft to recipients ofow on both pobullets. Production must take place in a wayob continuous, and a few weeks of possible downtime means that several millionow patientoin the whole world do not get their medications during this timeow,” explains Director Bańko.

Iodine 131 is not the only radioisotope produced at the Maria reactor. NCBJ is also m.in. a significant producer of the isotope molybdenum used to obtain technetium – the most popular element used in nuclear medicine.

Not all isotopes of medical importance can be obtained in a reactor. Someore can only be created by irradiating the appropriate materialoin beams of charged particles, such as protons, deuterium nuclei or alpha particles. – Last year, we launched the CERAD project, which is subsidized by funds from theoin the European Union. A new research and production center for radiopharmaceuticals will be established in Świerkow equipped with a cyclotron allowing us to receive previously unavailable isotopes. We will be able to produce, among other things, iodine 123, whichohe half-life of the drug is only poThe radioisotope is not available on a daily basis, which is why it is recommended in the event of illnessob thyroid in children. Our Radioisotope Centerow is already producing radiopharmaceuticals containing this isotope, but for now we have to import precursors for its production from Germany – mowi prof. Krzysztof Kurek, director of NCBJ.

Health care activities are an important area of NCBJ’s work. – We are a research institute so our task is also to develop new radiopharmaceuticalsow. We have been doing this for years, and the CERAD laboratories will be an invaluable help to us. We also won a competition with partners to conduct interdisciplinary studiesoin Ph.D. radiopharmaceuticals for molecularly targeted diagnostics and medical therapy. The first students will be able to begin their studies in the new academic year. At the end of the four-year studiesoat CERAD will already be waiting for them,” adds Professor Kurek.