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Converting Energy to Medical Progress


Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee

In 1946, BER originated in Oak Ridge when the research site made a vast selection of radionuclides available for nuclear medicine research. The laboratory also formed a network of universities to study the clinical potential of radiotracers. Today, scientists here continue to study the future potential of new radiopharmaceuticals.

This group has developed a variety of radiopharmaceuticals for both diagnostic and therapeutic applications. One example is a generator to produce rhenium-188, a therapeutic radionuclide used to provide economical cancer treatment in developing countries. Another potential use of rhenium-188 is to prolong the beneficial effects of balloon angioplasty, a procedure that opens up narrowed arteries of the heart in patients with coronary artery disease. Patients often need repeated angioplasties because the coronary arteries gradually become reclogged.

Coronary Artery Disease
Treated artery
These images show cross sections of swine arteries after angioplasty. One artery (top), treated with a rhenium-188, liquid-filled balloon, remained wide open 30 days after the angioplasty. The untreated artery (bottom) became reclogged within that same time period.
Untreated artery

Using a fatty acid as the carrier molecule, Oak Ridge scientists have also developed a radiopharmaceutical (iodine-123 BMIPP) that shows how much heart muscle remains alive after a heart attack. These scans help doctors decide whether those portions of the heart muscle can recover after bypass surgery or angioplasty.

Next: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York

 


Table of Contents * About BER * Many Patients * How Does It Work? * BER Medical * Future Healthcare * BNL * LBNL * ORNL * Sloan-Kettering * UCLA * Washington Univ. * Univ. of Michigan * 50-Years * Credits

Published April 2001


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