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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W021307/1
Title: A multi-user radiochemical synthesis facility for molecular imaging research
Principal Investigator: Gee, Professor A D
Other Investigators:
Hammers, Professor A Blower, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr J Blower Dr KM Nielsen
Project Partners:
Department: Imaging & Biomedical Engineering
Organisation: Kings College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2022 Ends: 30 June 2025 Value (£): 908,556
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biological & Medicinal Chem. Medical Imaging
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Nov 2021 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel November 2021 - Panel 1 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Nuclear medicine is an established field of medicine with both diagnostic and therapeutic uses; in its diagnostic use, it involves administering radioactive drugs - radiopharmaceuticals - to patients, and then either imaging the distribution of the radiopharmaceuticals non-invasively with a scanner (e.g. a PET scanner for Positron Emission Tomography) to diagnose disease (for example, to discover the location of tumours), or to predict which treatments will be effective for an individual patient with a specific disease - a step towards personalised medicine. In its therapeutic use, the radiopharmaceutical emits radiation that is toxic to cancer cells and can kill them with minimal damage to healthy cells. Both diagnostic and therapeutic medicine are on the threshold of implementing ground-breaking innovations clinically, for patient benefit. Diagnostic capability will soon take a leap forward with the advent of Total Body PET, which will allow faster scanning with much lower radiation doses and use of several tracers at once to better characterise disease. Therapeutic capability will also make great strides in the next few years as the introduction of new types of radionuclides - alpha and Auger electron emitters - into the clinic has the potential to transform radionuclide therapy from a palliative (symptom-relief) to a curative treatment.

To fully exploit these imminent breakthroughs, a new generation of radiopharmaceuticals is needed, driven by new radiochemistry research. Research in nuclear medicine is very much concerned with the development of new radiopharmaceuticals for new applications in different diseases. The production and synthesis of the radiopharmaceuticals requires specialised and costly facilities such as cyclotrons and robotic synthesis equipment. Research on new radiopharmaceuticals is largely conducted in the same facilities as routine production of radiopharmaceuticals for clinical use. Consequently it has to be fitted in between the routine daily productions which generally take priority, leaving little time and access for research and development. Increasingly, the drug regulatory bodies demand that research activity is excluded from the clinical production facilities in order to protect them from risk of contamination, further restricting the opportunity to use them for research and development.

The UK is home to a world-leading community of radiopharmaceutical science research groups developing new ideas for radiopharmaceuticals, but they face a severe bottleneck in developing their ideas and putting them to the test because of the above mentioned problems with access to radiochemistry facilities. King's College London is a major UK PET centre which has recently commissioned a new facility for clinical radiopharmaceutical production, leaving its old production laboratory vacant. In this project, we will convert this old laboratory, known as CARL, into a dedicated research radiochemistry laboratory for radiopharmaceutical development - something that does not exist in the UK - overcoming the restricted access to clinical production facilities and providing a unique facility that researchers from across the UK can use, either by visiting CARL directly or commissioning work to produce and supply research radionuclides and radiopharmaceuticals for use in external laboratories.

Research teams from across the UK, and internationally, will then be able to develop new radiopharmaceuticals for preclinical evaluation and potential subsequent clinical application in the diagnosis of a wide variety of high-impact diseases such as cancer, dementia, heart disease and infection; and for treating cancer.
Key Findings
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