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International Symposium on Trends in Radiopharmaceuticals

11 November 2005 | There will be a press briefing on Monday, 14 November 2005 at 10.15 a.m. in the Press Briefing Room C03, in the Vienna International Centre about the continuing advances of a nuclear technique that is revolutionizing medical diagnostics. It follows the opening of the IAEA organized International Symposium on Trends in Radiopharmaceuticals at 09.30 a.m. in the IAEA Board Room on C04. The Symposium is open to the press.

Every day between 40,000 and 50,000 diagnostic images are conducted in hospitals and clinics around the world using radiopharmaceuticals and imaging equipment that traces their passage and interaction through the human body. Formerly considered an exotic tool the technique is becoming a mainstay of diagnostics, particularly in the detection of cancer metastasis and cardiovascular diseases. It is one of the major areas in which the IAEA provides technical assistance to developing Member States, with programmes currently in 50 countries.

The technique opens a window for physicians to view the function of a patient´s organs, providing information about a range of conditions from changes in cancer cells to drug resistance in malaria parasites. Early diagnosis and treatment offered by the technique also result in significant cost benefits and increased efficiency and accuracy of treatment.

Most nuclear medicine procedures are non-invasive involving the administration of radioisotopes in minute quantities to a patient and their tracking by imaging systems called gamma cameras. One of the fastest growing techniques in the field is positron emission tomography (PET) using sophisticated instrumentation, that reveals intricate health changes earlier than other diagnostic methods.

Diagnostic imaging using radionuclides was developed in 1956, but subsequent advances in electronics and computers has dramatically enhanced the scope of the technique and its usefulness. Some radiopharmaceuticals are also used for treatment in thyroid disorders and to reduce pain for patients suffering from bone cancer.

In its support for radiopharmaceuticals the IAEA provides technical assistance, promotes patient safety as well as supporting the local production of radioisotopes, some of which have a half-life as short as minutes to hours and therefore cannot be transported over longer distances.

The Symposium will be attended by about 280 experts from over 70 IAEA Member States, including representatives of 13 companies that make equipment for radiopharmaceuticals production and clinical applications.