Maria for Radiopharmaceuticals



Maria is Poland’s only nuclear reactor. Its functions include the irradiation of uranium shields which are used to produce radiopharmaceuticals. And Maria’s production capacity is set to increase. This is vital since just eight such installations in the world provide the entire global output of the elements necessary in nuclear medicine for precise cancer diagnosis and certain types of therapy. Reactors in Canada and the Netherlands temporarily stopped operating on a few occasions in the past, always triggering a crisis in the market of isotopes indispensable to oncological hospitals. Each time pharmaceutical companies requested the Polish centre in Świerk, home to Maria, to increase its deliveries, the centre did. It now exports its products to 70 countries and has a share of over 20% in the global market of isotopes for nuclear medicine. At the end of January a tender was announced for the construction of a new technology line to produce technetium-99m, the element used in brain, kidney, heart and bone scintigraphy. The investment will entail the installation of measuring, testing and monitoring systems compliant with pharmaceutical industry requirements. As a result, the centre will be able to quintuple its production capacity and supply radiopharmaceuticals to approximately a thousand hospitals in the world. Scientists from Świerk have recently added yet another product to the centre’s range: Techimmuna. It is an isotope preparation in which a molecule of human immunoglobulin G, obtained from plasma proteins, was modified to easily bond with technetium-99m. When introduced into a patient’s body, Techimmuna accumulates where there is an inflammation. Thus inflammatory conditions can be easily localized. The pharmaceutical is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. This condition typically manifests itself in people aged between 30 and 50, three times more often in women than men. Medicine has yet to discover an effective cure, but an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment slow down the development of the disease and prevent complications. Much work, therefore, seems to lie ahead for Maria from Świerk.


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