National Physical Laboratory

Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine

Around 1 million patients a year undergo a nuclear medicine procedure in the UK in order to diagnose, monitor, or treat diseases such as cancer. Radionuclides are playing an expanding role in medicine due to the ability to obtain images of physiological function. Advances in biotechnology are also leading to the development of drugs that target cancer cells; attaching a radionuclide to a carrier molecule that seeks out the cancerous cells enables the cancer to be destroyed, sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.

In order to achieve successful outcomes, both the activity injected and the doses delivered to target (and healthy) organs should be known as accurately as possible. The administered activity is typically determined using an ionisation chamber (commonly referred to as 'radionuclide calibrator'), whereas doses delivered to organs must be assessed using imaging techniques such as PET or SPECT. NPL is working on several projects to support these measurements:

  • Standardisation of medically important radionuclides (for example,223Ra) and comparison of these standards with those held at other National Measurement Institutes (NMIs)
  • Provision of calibration services to hospitals, including derivation and dissemination of new calibration factors for the NPL 'Fidelis' Radionuclide calibrator
  • Research to underpin quantitative SPECT and PET imaging
  • Development of standard methods for dose determination
  • Nuclear Medicine Metrology Meeting (NM3) and Radionuclide Calibrators Users Forum (RCUF) – to facilitate best practice in measurement
  • International comparison exercises to demonstrate the proficiency of nuclear medicine departments at assaying the radioactivity content of the radiopharmaceuticals when measured using radionuclide calibrators and with quantitative SPECT or PET

Main Research Projects

MRTDosimetry

Metrology for clinical implementation of dosimetry in molecular radiotherapy (MRTDosimetry) is a joint research project (JRP) within the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR). It brought together expertise in metrology and nuclear medicine research in order to address the problem of determining the radiation dose to individual patients who are undergoing molecular radiotherapy (MRT), also known as 'targeted radionuclide therapy', or 'nuclear medicine therapy'. The project began on 1 June 2016 and will run for three years, finishing on 31 May 2019.

Visit the MRTDosimetry website for updates

MetroMRT

MetroMRT was a joint research project (JRP) within the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP). It brought together expertise in metrology and nuclear medicine research in order to address the problem of determining the radiation dose to individual patients who are undergoing molecular radiotherapy (MRT), also known as 'targeted radionuclide therapy', or 'nuclear medicine therapy'. The project began on 1 June 2012 and ran for three years, finishing on 31 May 2015.

Visit the MetroMRT website for more information

Download MetroMRT draft final publishable report Adobe Acrobat PDF file

Contact

Click here for further information on the Ionising Radiation Programme or contact one of our experts via email

Last Updated: 5 Sep 2016
Created: 14 Jun 2007

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