NPL develops radionuclide tracing system for radiotherapy
13 December 2012
Scientists from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have
developed a system of radionuclide traceability for a new radiotherapy
treatment for neuroendocrine tumours. These tumours are usually found in
the intestine or lungs and arise from hormone-producing cells.
The new treatment involves the administration of a peptide
labelled with radioactive Lutetium-177 (177Lu), which irradiates the
tumour cells with beta and gamma rays, without causing excessive
damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
The treatment can also include nuclear imaging, using the
gamma-ray emission of the radionuclide. Following a series of
clinical trials, Lutetium-177 is now beginning to be used routinely
for molecular radionuclide therapy (MRT) in the UK and Europe.
A team of NPL scientists first established a link to the
International Reference System by standardising 177Lu as part of an
international comparison in 2011. Once that had been established,
NPL invited UK and European hospitals that regularly use this
radionuclide to participate in a blind exercise to measure the
radioactivity in samples of 177Lu.
From the results of this exercise, the hospitals could
demonstrate traceability, ensuring regulatory compliance and patient
safety. The results showed that the majority of participating
hospitals have the capability to measure the 177Lu activity to
within 2%, with only three participants showing variations higher
The same team of scientists is now working on the next important
step towards establishing traceability for 177Lu imaging, within the
framework of a European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP) project
called 'Metrology for Molecular Radiotherapy'.
More information on the European Metrology Research Programme: