Michael Azure, PhD, Associate Professor of Radiology, is Manager of this research area. He is actively establishing the facilities for radiolabeling imaging agents for preclinical and clinical studies. His expertise includes preparation and evaluation of radiotracers. Dr. Azure is actively collaborating with Dr. Janis O'Malley in Radiology (Nuclear Medicine) and Dr. Ruby Meredith (Radiation Oncology), and these excellent working relationships will provide a solid mechanism for translation of preclinical imaging studies to clinical studies as is program becomes established.
Laboratories for production of radiopharmaceuticals for SPECT and PET imaging will be developed in two phases by Dr. Azure, enabling immediate capacity in basic and preclinical efforts during phase I, with phase II allowing translational and clinical human studies shortly thereafter. Phase I will establish a tracer preparation laboratory (2345 sq) that is immediately adjacent to existing infrastructure, namely, the vivarium, and the Small Animal Imaging Shared Facility. Construction will begin in the fall of 2010.
Phase II of the effort is planned to start in the spring of 2011 and will install the cyclotron and additional radiopharmaceutical laboratories (4060 sf) in the basement floor of the Wallace Tumor Institute (WTI). With new stringent guidelines established by the FDA in December of 2009 for radiopharmaceuticals (PET agents included) this facility will be constructed to meet these requirements. HEPA filtered air will be flowing into all areas of production including the hot cells where radiation chemistry synthesis modules will be located for production of various radiopharmaceuticals.
The cyclotron will be a TR24 cyclotron manufactured by Advanced Cyclotron Systems (ACS), a division of EBCO. The machine operates at 24MeV and has current capacity of 300uA. This is a powerful cyclotron and will enable UAB to produce many different radionuclides with appreciable yields including PET radioisotopes, SPECT radioisotopes, radiotherapeutic isotopes, and radioisotopes for research applications for SPECT animal imaging that could be correlated with MRI. The cyclotron and associated radiopharmaceutical laboratories will be positioned in immediate adjacency to the human PET/CT. Dedicated access to a cyclotron with specialized radioisotope production capabilities and in close proximity to our human and animal imaging is a fundamental component of the imaging facility.