GE Healthcare releases PET synthesizer

October 3, 2006

The Achilles heel of positron imaging is the production of radiotracers. GE’s long-awaited introduction of FastLAB is designed to help remedy this problem.

The Achilles heel of positron imaging is the production of radiotracers. GE's long-awaited introduction of FastLAB is designed to help remedy this problem.

The cassette-based product, shown at trade shows for the last few years as a work-in-progress, debuted as a commercial product this week in Athens at the Congress of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine. Three evaluation units have been installed. Production line systems will begin shipping the first quarter of next year, according to Jim Mitchell, global radiopharmacy general manager at GE Healthcare.

The single-use cassette contains premeasured amounts of the chemicals needed to synthesize PET radiopharmaceuticals, enabling faster, easier production of these tracers.

"In less than a minute, you can go from an unloaded FastLAB to a FastLAB ready to go," Mitchell said.

Tests at commercial distribution and academic sites in the U.S. and Europe have indicated that FastLAB can produce batches of FDG with a mean uncorrected yield of 70%. This compares favorably with GE's current TracerLAB MX, which has a 60% yield.

FastLAB is not limited to FDG, however. The company is developing cassettes that will allow the production of other radiopharmaceuticals, including GE Healthcare proprietary diagnostic imaging agents. One is now in phase I clinical trials as an indicator of angiogenesis. Another addresses Alzheimer's disease.

Nearer to readiness may be cassettes for producing nonproprietary agents such as sodium fluoride, which is currently being used for bone scans, and (18)F-3'-fluoro-3'-deoxy-L-thymidine (FLT), which can be used to monitor the effect of cancer therapy