The facility will produce a reliable supply of isotopes for the US Department of Energy's Isotope Program.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham Cyclotron Facility has been selected to join the United States Department of Energy's Isotope Program as a university partner. The UAB Cyclotron Facility is the third university to join the University Isotope Network and will produce a reliable supply of isotopes focused on advancing scientific research. This partnership will bring three new isotopes to the Isotopes Program product portfolio: cobalt-55, manganese-52, and vanadium-48.
Although these new isotopes are in the radiochemical and preclinical phase, they will eventually lead to the development of certain imaging agents that visualize cellular activity within the body. Imaging agents are developed for different purposes in the body. When injected, these agents target specific cellular processes to improve our understanding of disease and ultimately help clinicians determine how well organs and tissues are functioning. This helps in the development of a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
"We are honored that UAB has been selected to join DOE's University Isotope Program," said Suzanne Lapi, Ph.D., director of the UAB cyclotron facility and professor in the Department of Radiology. “This program is incredibly selective and allows us to continue to enable new activities in the radiopharmaceutical space that will ultimately lead to the development of new imaging agents.”
Lapi explains that one of the most important aspects of the program is the what it could mean for patients across the United States.
"Each disease has specific markers that allow researchers to better understand a patient's condition," Lapi said. “We are always looking to develop new imaging agents to identify new markers in hopes of giving clinicians a better way to deliver the best possible care to their patients. Isotopes play a vital role in the development of these agents.”
The Department of Energy selected UAB for this program to bring the next generation of isotopes. The goal of the isotope program is to improve the supply of isotopes and work to make them available nationally. Lapi says DOE has recently been working with specialized facilities, such as universities, that have expertise in these areas.
UAB isotopes are developed using the Cyclotron Facility's TR24 cyclotron, a unique resource for an academic medical center in the United States. This powerful cyclotron is a particle accelerator that creates isotopes for medical imaging agents for research and clinical applications. The facility currently produces more than 15 radioisotopes for medical applications in preclinical studies and clinical trials.
"As a member of this program, the UAB Cyclotron Facility builds on its current successes and continues to grow and expand its portfolio in the clinical trials space and radiochemistry space," said Lapi. “Our program is a hub for team science and allows us to enhance the visibility of the program and showcase its unique strengths to people across the country.”