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Multi-GBq production of the radiotracer [ 18 F]fallypride in a droplet microreactor


Microfluidics offers numerous advantages for the synthesis of short-lived radiolabeled imaging tracers: performing 18F-radiosyntheses in microliter-scale droplets has exhibited high efficiency, speed, and molar activity as well as low reagent consumption. However, most reports have been at the preclinical scale. In this study we integrate a [18F]fluoride concentrator and a microdroplet synthesizer to explore the possibility of synthesizing patient doses and multi-patient batches of clinically-acceptable tracers. In the integrated system, [18F]fluoride (up to 41 GBq [1.1 Ci]) in [18O]H2O (1 mL) was first concentrated ∼80-fold and then efficiently transferred to the 8 μL reaction chip as a series of small (∼0.5 μL) droplets. Each droplet rapidly dried at the reaction site of the pre-heated chip, resulting in localized accumulation of large amounts of radioactivity in the form of dried [18F]TBAF complex. The PET tracer [18F]fallypride was synthesized from this concentrated activity in an overall synthesis time of ∼50 min (including radioisotope concentration and transfer, droplet radiosynthesis, purification, and formulation), in amounts up to 7.2 GBq [0.19 Ci], sufficient for multiple clinical PET scans. The resulting batches of [18F]fallypride passed all QC tests needed to ensure safety for clinical injection. This integrated technology enabled for the first time the impact of a wide range of activity levels on droplet radiosynthesis to be studied. Furthermore, this substantial increase in scale expands the applications of droplet radiosynthesis to the production of clinically-relevant amounts of radiopharmaceuticals, and potentially even centralized production of clinical tracers in radiopharmacies. The overall system could be applied to fundamental studies of droplet-based radiochemical reactions, or to the production of radiopharmaceuticals labeled with a variety of isotopes used for imaging and/or targeted radiotherapeutics.

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