What are medical isotopes used for?

One of the principal uses of medical isotopes is for diagnostic imaging procedures. Radioactive isotopes such as technetium-99m (Tc-99m), a daughter isotope of Mo-99, are light-producing elements used in medical imaging. When introduced into the patient’s body for nuclear imaging, these medical radioisotopes help doctors examine how their patients’ various tissues and internal organs are functioning. The radioactive emissions of certain isotopes can also be used in therapeutics, especially cancer therapeutics. Radioactive isotopes which strongly emit alpha or beta radiation for very brief periods can be used to destroy tumors, for example.

Medical isotopes also play a role in sterilizing medical equipment. Longer-lived isotopes with more intense radioactive isotopes are packaged as sealed radiation sources and their emissions are used to kill bacteria and other microorganisms on reusable tools and equipment in between uses.

SPECT Scan

Diagnostic uses of medical isotopes

SPECT (single-photon emission computerized tomography) and PET (positron emission tomography) scans are the two most commonly used diagnostic applications of medical isotopes. Both of these diagnostic nuclear medicine imaging procedures are critical for detecting life-threatening conditions and have a wide range of uses in cardiology, musculoskeletal imaging, neurology, and more. Heart and bone diseases, tumors, bacterial infections, and even neurological issues can be diagnosed using these diagnostic methods, which depend on radioactive isotopes. Tc-99m is critical for SPECT scans because it emits photons in the form of gamma rays, while other positron-emitting isotopes are used for PET scans.

Therapeutic uses of medical isotopes

Radiopharmaceutical therapy is at the forefront of precision cancer treatment. By harnessing radioisotopes to destroy diseased cells with limited damage to nearby healthy cells, nuclear medicine therapy offers potentially life-saving treatments where previous treatments failed or had significant negative consequences to the patient. In targeted cancer therapy, a cancer-killing radioisotope such as Lu-177 is paired with a cancer-seeking molecule to form a smart compound that directly irradiates cancer cells. While Lu-177 is currently the only such isotope approved for use by the FDA, we believe that further research will show other isotopes as being useful for therapeutic treatments as well.

We believe our vertically integrated therapeutic radioisotope production process is the best on the market due to our uniquely scalable and efficient nuclear separation technique to extract non-carrier-added Lu-177 and other radioisotopes. This process will provide a sustainable and cost-effective option for therapeutic radioisotope production for use in nuclear medicine procedures.

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