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IAEA Training Course Helps Experts in Asia and the Pacific to Access the Latest Developments in Theranostic Science


Participants of the regional training course received guidance in the application of the latest protocols and procedures in the preparation and quality control of PET-based radiopharmaceuticals, using Copper-64 and Zirconium-89. (Photo: M. Gaspar/IAEA)

Theranostics is an emerging and cutting-edge field of medicine that enables experts to either simultaneously or sequentially diagnose and treat patients, using radiopharmaceuticals. Among early-adopters, this patient-centred discipline has demonstrated its potential to produce more accurate diagnoses and site-specific treatment, while reducing the risk to healthy tissue.

From 8 to 10 February, 58 medical practitioners in Asia and the Pacific were given training on the production and quality control of theranostic radiopharmaceuticals in an online IAEA course.

“The participation of such a large group of regional experts and practitioners in this course is a testament to the broad interest in theranostics, the field’s dynamic stage of development and its promising potential for healthcare in Asia and the Pacific,” said Gashaw Wolde in the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation (TC) Division for Asia and the Pacific.

Cancer, neurological disorders and cardiac dysfunctions are major causes of death in the Asia and the Pacific region, and the incidence of these is expected to double by 2025 if appropriate diagnostics and treatment are not introduced.

Radiopharmaceuticals are increasingly used to address these gaps, allowing healthcare professionals to screen tumours, select appropriate treatment plans and monitor the development of tumours. The February course was provided as part of a regional IAEA TC project[1] launched in 2018, which aims to close capacity gaps and to ensure the availability of locally-produced radiopharmaceutical products into the future.

To give insight into the actual operation of a radiopharmaceutical facility, Francisco Alves of the  University of Coimbra’s Institute for Nuclear Sciences Applied to Health (POR-ICNAS) took participants on a virtual tour of the INCAS laboratories, the first IAEA Collaborating Centre in the field of cyclotron radiopharmaceutical production, and the first one dedicated entirely to field of radiopharmacy.

Participants learned about the production and use of Zr-89 and Cu-64 products at POR-ICNAS through a series of videos and multimedia tools which clarified the entire lab process, from preclinical studies to post-production quality assurance.

The next training course planned under the ongoing technical cooperation project is will take place from 21 to 25 June 2022. It will focus on issues related to the regulatory aspects of radiopharmaceutical production and will present the latest in regulatory processes in the production, approval and final clinical application of radiopharmaceuticals in the region.

[1] RAS6090 ‘Promoting the Preparation of Emerging Radiopharmaceuticals for Positron Emission Tomography-Based Molecular Imaging and Radionuclide Therapy’

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