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Production of diverse PET probes with limited resources: 24 18F-labeled compounds prepared with a single radiosynthesizer


New radiolabeled probes for positron-emission tomography (PET) are providing an ever-increasing ability to answer diverse research and clinical questions and to facilitate the discovery, development, and clinical use of drugs in patient care. Despite the high equipment and facility costs to produce PET probes, many radiopharmacies and radiochemistry laboratories use a dedicated radiosynthesizer to produce each probe, even if the equipment is idle much of the time, to avoid the challenges of reconfiguring the system fluidics to switch from one probe to another. To meet growing demand, more cost-efficient approaches are being developed, such as radiosynthesizers based on disposable "cassettes," that do not require reconfiguration to switch among probes. However, most cassette-based systems make sacrifices in synthesis complexity or tolerated reaction conditions, and some do not support custom programming, thereby limiting their generality. In contrast, the design of the ELIXYS FLEX/CHEM cassette-based synthesizer supports higher temperatures and pressures than other systems while also facilitating flexible synthesis development. In this paper, the syntheses of 24 known PET probes are adapted to this system to explore the possibility of using a single radiosynthesizer and hot cell for production of a diverse array of compounds with wide-ranging synthesis requirements, alongside synthesis development efforts. Most probes were produced with yields and synthesis times comparable to literature reports, and because hardware modification was unnecessary, it was convenient to frequently switch among probes based on demand. Although our facility supplies probes for preclinical imaging, the same workflow would be applicable in a clinical setting.

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