A research team at the Department of Cyclotron and Radiopharmaceuticals at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center has succeeded in developing a novel technique of producing large quantities of the highly purified radioactive isotope gallium-68 used in cancer diagnosis. The development is also expected to end the dependence on expensive Gallium-68 generators. In addition, this achievement will contribute to improving the diagnostic and therapeutic quality of cancer patients and will increase the availability of radiopharmaceuticals throughout the Kingdom.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jammaz, chairman of the Department of Cyclotron and Radiopharmaceuticals at KFSH&RC, explained that the radioactive gallium isotope was produced locally by means of a novel process using proton irradiation technology via nuclear accelerators for solid targets plated with Zinc 68. He added that the radioactive gallium-68 is used as a raw material for producing radioactive clinical pharmaceuticals (Ga-68 DOTATATE and Ga-68-PSMA), which are used in diagnosing several types of tumors, particularly adenocarcinomas and prostate cancer.
Dr. Al-Jammaz said that the project, carried out under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will expand to include the new isotope gallium-68’s techniques including using liquid targets, which could completely replace the gallium generator.
For the past four decades, KFSH&RC has been regarded as the leading Middle Eastern hospital in the production of isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals used in advanced medical applications. The hospital is recognized by the IAEA as a global center for nuclear-medicine production, research and development. Every year, it produces around 30,000 doses of radioactive pharmaceuticals, which are used in diagnosing many diseases and treating malignant tumors. This achievement is in line with the hospital’s ambitious vision to meet the needs of the Kingdom and achieve self-sufficiency in the production of radiopharmaceuticals, which contribute to the provision of reliable and high-quality health care, as well as the financial sustainability of KFSH&RC in privatizing the health sector.