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 than this.

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:


To top