New cyclotron to help doctors detect cancers

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Workers lower a new cyclotron into its vault at the East Building on the Medical Campus. The unit, in the works for more than a decade, is a particle accelerator that will produce radioactive compounds, many of which are used with positron emission tomography (PET) scanners to detect types of cancers. After a transition period, the new cyclotron will replace two others on campus that make these compounds. “The new cyclotron will have higher energy and increased capacity to produce the PET drugs we need,” said Sally Schwarz, research associate professor of radiology and co-director of the Cyclotron Facility, which is within the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology. Also under construction next to the vault is a Good Manufacturing Practice facility, a strictly controlled sterile environment to prepare radiopharmaceuticals for use in patients. “If everything goes well with the installation processes, we hope to have the new cyclotron producing radiopharmaceuticals in the next two to three months,” said cyclotron co-director Gregory Gaehle. “The GMP facility still has a great deal of construction and certification to complete, so it will take longer to bring that facility online.”