Stories|Routine production of radionuclides for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

Routine production of radionuclides for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

Life Science and healthcare

Symbiosis of research and industry against cancer

Radionuclides are becoming increasingly important in diagnosing and treating cancer. Their short half-lives present a challenge, however. They can only be produced in nuclear reactors and other high-energy facilities and can only be transported short distances before becoming unusable. Neither can they be stockpiled. This makes it very convenient when a radiopharmaceuticals company has a research centre on its doorstep which is able to produce such radionuclides in its accelerator facilities.

Radionuclides are being used more and more often in many areas of technology and research, but above all in medicine. They are used in a range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to visualise and examine metabolic processes inside living organisms. Radionuclides like this hardly ever occur in nature because their half-life is often just a few hours. To producing them artificially, a precursor must be bombarded with high-energy particle beams which can only be produced in nuclear reactors – or in an accelerator.

This is what gave employees at ROTOP Radiopharmacy GmbH in Dresden, which sells this kind of radionuclide, the idea of joining forces with the HZDR. Together they developed a special system at the TR-Flex cyclotron at the HZDR, which now produces the radionuclide iodine-123, used to diagnose Parkinson’s disease, for example, at night, when research operations are on hold. More precisely, a raw solution is manufactured, which Rotop collects in the morning and processes in its own laboratories to produce ready-to-use iodine-123. In addition to medical facilities and other customers, this radionuclide is also supplied to the HZDR itself, which uses it in its own research. A win-win solution. In 2021, ROTOP and HZDR received the Saxon Transfer Award for the idea behind this symbiosis.

Partners involved

  • HZDR (proton cyclotron)
  • Rotop GmbH (industrial partner)
Added Values

More information

Further information about the technology and methodology?


Dorit Teichmann

Innovation Manager