PRISMAP: A European network for medical radioisotope production and research

October 1, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
A conceptual image of collaboration across Europe. (Image: PRISMAP/SCIPROM)

Only a few of the more than 3,000 radioisotopes that scientists have synthesized in the laboratory are regularly used in diagnostic or therapeutic medicine. One significant barrier to the development of new medical radioisotopes is the difficulty of gaining access to radionuclides during the early stages of development and research. PRISMAP is a new medical radionuclide program designed to streamline that access for medical research in the European Union and the United Kingdom.

PRISMAP consortium, highlighting the facilities providing access to radioisotopes and biomedical research facilities under development. (Image: ©SCIPROM 2021)

The vision: PRISMAP will unite a fragmented user community to study novel production technology, new purification methods, and proof-of-concept investigations to develop new treatments, from test bench to patient care. PRISMAP will serve a consortium of 23 institutions from 13 countries, providing access to intense neutron sources, isotope mass separation facilities, and high-power accelerators and cyclotrons to the biomedical and healthcare research institutions putting those radioisotopes into use in medical diagnosis and treatment. The program has support from the European Association of Nuclear Medicine and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

According to a PRISMAP press release, “Nuclear therapy and molecular imaging are widely used at hospitals for new promising medical procedures. They can drastically improve the outcome for many medical conditions, and enable treating disseminated cancer in particular. However, its effective development has long been limited by the difficult access to radionuclides not yet commercially available. With PRISMAP—the European medical radionuclides program—this is about to change.”

The challenge: Novel radioisotopes that have yet to prove their clinical potential typically must be produced using research reactors or laboratory-scale particle accelerators. They also must be highly purified to ensure quality patient care and reliable research results and to minimize waste management issues in a hospital environment.

PRISMAP will provide a single-entry point for researchers and clinicians to access production and support capabilities and to submit proposals. In some cases, researchers from remote European laboratories may be hosted at biomedical research facilities located near a production site if, for example, the isotope being researched has a half-life that would not permit long transport routes.

Objectives: PRISMAP was created to address cancer, which is designated a major societal challenge in Europe's Beating Cancer Plan. It will do so by the following actions:

  • Providing access to new radionuclides and new purity grades for medical research.
  • Creating a common entry port and Web interface for the research community.
  • Improving clarity and regulatory procedures to enhance research with radiopharmaceuticals.
  • Improving data, regulation, and biomedical research capacity.
  • Ensuring the long-term sustainability of PRISMAP.

Call for proposals: Access to radioisotopes and associated facilities will be granted competitively by a selection panel consisting of experts in the fields of radioisotope production, molecular imaging, and radionuclide therapy. The first call for proposals will be launched before the end of 2021 for applications in the first quarter of 2022.

PRISMAP is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

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