- Future of Radioactive Elements in Medicine
Radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals are widely used to enhance diagnostic imaging. In therapeutic applications they are used in the treatment of disease. In the medical research arena, radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals using these isotopes are at the forefront in research which is providing new methods to diagnose disease. More importantly, in the treatment of disease, especially cancers, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, rejection of organ transplants, etc. is beginning to show success.
In the United States over 50,000 patients benefit from medical imaging technologies each day using radiopharmaceuticals and/or an individual radioisotope for medical imaging diagnostics in PET (Positron Emission Tomography), SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and CAT Scan (Computer Aided Tomography Scanning).
One of every four persons admitted to US hospitals undergoes at least one diagnostic or therapeutic medical procedure that employs radioisotopes or radiopharmaceuticals. The total number of radiopharmaceutical doses delivered to patients each year exceeds 16 million. These 16 million doses are part of the 13 million nuclear medicine procedures performed in the 4000 nuclear medicine facilities in the United States alone1.
While research in the specific application of enhancing diagnostic images continues, the current trend in the development and administration of radiopharmaceuticals as a therapy is today considered to be greatest opportunity in the application of radiopharmaceuticals. The delivery of radiopharmaceuticals as a therapy is a rapidly expanding. The advances realized in molecular biology (human genome project) for identifying cellular structure of disease, the mechanisms for manifestation (its origins) combined with advances in new radiopharmaceuticals combinations has developed into a new science known as Molecular Targeted Radiotherapy (MTR). The release of Zevalin® from Biogen Idec Inc., a monoclonal antibody using yttrium-90, is a prime example and state-of-the-art compound used in current cancer therapies.
1 "U.S. Radiopharmaceuticals Markets", Frost & Sullivan, A161-50, 2002