Semi-automated Lab-on-a-Chip for Dispensing Ga-68 Radiotracers
We aim to solve a technical problem that is hindering American progress in molecular medicine, and restricting US citizens from receiving optimal diagnostic care. Specifically, the project deals with a mother/daughter generator of positron-emitting radiotracers (Ge-68/Ga-68). These generator systems are approved in Europe but cannot be used in the USA, because of safety issues related to possible breakthrough of long-lived Ge-68 (mother) atoms. Europeans have demonstrated abilities of Ga-68- labeled radiotracers to image cancer foci with high sensitivity and specificity, and to use such methods to effectively plan therapy. The USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have taken the position that every patient administration of Ga-68 should be preceded by an assay demonstrated that Ge-68 breakthrough is within acceptable limits. Breakthrough of parent elements is a sensitive subject at the FDA, as evidenced by the recent recall of Rb-82 generators due to inadvertent administrations of Sr-82. Commercially, there is no acceptable rapid method for assaying breakthrough of Ge-68 prior to each human administration. The gamma emissions of daughter Ga-68 have higher energies than the parent Ge-68, so that the shielding assays typically employed for Mo-99/Tc-99m generators cannot be applied to Ga-68 generators. The half-life of Ga-68 is 68 minutes, so that the standard 10-half-life delay (used to assess breakthrough in Sr-82/Rb-82 generators) cannot be applied to Ga-68 generators. As a result of the aforementioned regulatory requirements, Ga-68 generators are sold in the USA for animal use only. The American clinical communitys inability to utilize Ga-68 generators impairs abilities to treat patients domestically, and puts the USA at a disadvantage in developing exportable products. The proposed DOE project aims to take advantage of recent technological advances developed for lab-on-a-chip (LOC) applications. Based on our experiences constructing such devices, the proposed microfluidics-based approach is expected to provide cost-effective validation of breakthrough compliance in minutes.
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Weinberg Medical Physics LLC
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