We are at the threshold of another year and if the postal service co-operates this issue will arrive in advance of the abstract deadline for the BNMS annual meeting in Brighton, so let me take this last opportunity to encourage everyone to participate in this important scientific, educational, and social event. In addition to the preliminary information available on the BNMS website, I would like to announce that the BNMS Radiopharmaceutical Sciences AGM session on Tuesday will be extended to include an open discussion relating to the results of the recent BNMS survey of radiopharmacies around the issue of 99Mo shortages and any potential way forward if we have a response from the Department of Health by then. It will include an update on issues coming out of the UKRG Radiopharmacy Workshop in Bournville in January. Hope to see you by the sea side!
European nuclear medicine congress, Milan
The EANM congress was held in Milan at the end of October. As an event, there were highs and lows. Most of the meeting rooms were on the same floor, relatively easy to find, and had sufficient capacity, but getting to that floor was awkward. Indeed, getting to the convention centre was no easy task, given its suburban location; I had to almost circle it on the first day before gaining entry. The coffee (if you could get it) was excellent, though the tea was pitiful. There was a buzz, lots of people, and the commercial exhibition was busy.
From the sessions I attended a couple of themes emerged. Therapy is big, primarily peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRNT). Dosimetry is suggesting we can move to higher administered activities both for PRRNT and thyroid ablation. The first alpha emitter, 223Ra for treatment of bone metastases in prostate cancer, is likely to be available soon. There is a new spin on the sentinel node concept, a big advance of the last 15 years. It has been given a new name: radio-Guided intra-Operative Scintigraphic Tumour Targetting (GOSTT, very appropriate as this was Halloween week). To go with the new name there have been advances in two directions. The tracers now incorporate fluorescent tags which offer better contrast than visual detection of blue dye. This is important both for node localisation and surgical margin detection. And the hybrid intraoperative imaging technologies are becoming ever more sophisticated. Virtual reality is virtually a reality. However, given the limited depth sensitivity of the optical techniques, the radiopharmaceutical remains integral in directing the surgeon to the right place.
In terms of state of the art reviews/continuing education, there were sessions on good radiopharmaceutical practice as it varies among countries, new tracers for neurology, diagnosis and therapy of paediatric neuroblastoma, radiopharmaceutical legislation in Europe, radionuclide therapy with alpha emitters, and an EANM/EORTC joint session on translational research with biomarkers. Of particular interest was a session on prospects for 68Ga labelled radiopharmaceuticals with presentations ranging from the scope of potential applications to a reality check on which are likely to become routine within the next few years.
Cancer Research UK radiopharmaceutical workshop
A workshop was held in late October which was co-sponsored by Cancer Research UK, the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMC), and the UK Radiopharmacy Group. The issue was barriers to early phase clinical trials of radiopharmaceuticals. Cancer Research UK has sponsored six such trials of agents developed in academia and has noted that these trials have taken longer and been more complicated to set up than other trials. In addition to the regulatory barriers erected by the EU Clinical Trials Directive in 2005, it is recognised that radiopharmacies are not engaged early enough in the process and there are insufficient resources available in individual centres. A fundamental issue, not resolved on the day, is whether there should be a limited number of specialist centres; however, the specialist oncology expertise may not be co-located with the nuclear medicine/radiopharmacy expertise. Among the initiatives coming out of the meeting were a commitment to work with MHRA on standardisation of documentation, a sharing of resources and templates, and greater co-operation between centres. The latter point had been highlighted in a review of ECMC where it was noted that individual centres were operating at an international level but there was insufficient evidence of networking.
Second annual SPECT/CT symposium
After a successful first meeting in March 2012, we are planning a Second Annual SPECT/CT Symposium: Current Status and Future Directions of SPECT/CT Imaging on Monday 25 February 2013 in London. The symposium is organised by Dr Gopinath Gnanasegaran, British Institute of Radiology (BIR): Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Committee. Registration for the meeting is open now via the BIR website (www.bir.org.uk).
Nuclear Medicine Communications for the iPad®
Nuclear Medicine Communications is pleased to announce the launch of the journal's iPad app. Key benefits of this industry-leading app include:
Easy to read full-text articles
Adjustable text sizing with ‘pinch and zoom’
Ability to store or delete downloaded issues
Speedy issue browsing through Quick View and linked Table of Contents
Quick scrolling through abstracts
Convenient notification when a new issue is available
Links to the full journal website to view bonus features, including content published-ahead-of-print, article collections, eBooks, and archived issues.
Download the app now by searching for Nuclear Medicine Communications in the app store to access free issues (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nuclear-medicine-communications/id559845812?ls=1&mt=8).
Amyloid imaging in Europe
Hot on the heels of the FDA approval of florbetapir (Amyvid, Eli Lilly) at the beginning of 2012, late in the year the European Medicines Agency gave its approval to the agent. In a recent issue I discussed the clinical and commercial challenges faced by this new class of tracers. It will be an extremely interesting situation to watch, with potential impact on the development of other agents in the future.
Norman Veall Award 2012: Professor Glen Blake
The 2012 recipient of the Norman Veall Award is Professor Glen Blake of King's College London. The award was presented during the autumn BNMS meeting in Oxford.
With a first class degree in physics at Oxford and PhD in astrophysics from Cambridge, Glen's first post was in the radioisotope unit in Sheffield 40 years ago. His career can be illustrated through more than 200 papers that he has published that show his brilliant mind and ability. For all he has worked closely with clinical colleagues and many are with the PhD students he has supervised, 10 over the last 20 years. He encourages them to publish and oversees scientific excellence in their work.
His published work falls into three main areas. During his time in Southampton he produced fundamental work on the biokinetics of 89Sr and its use in palliative treatment of bone metastases from prostate cancer. Whilst in Southampton he also developed an interest in techniques for measurement of glomerular filtration rate, and played an important role in establishing BNMS guidance on GFR determination.
This interest continued following his move to King's College London at Guy's Hospital, where he also expanded into studies of osteoporosis with collaborator Professor Ignac Fogelman. These studies made use of three modalities: kinetics of 99mTc-MDP studied by gamma camera imaging, kinetics of 18F-fluoride studies by PET, and bone densitometry. It is in the latter field in which he is particularly well known and has made fundamental contributions to the use of this technique.
Glen has supervised numerous PhD and MD students, and was for many years the graduate co-ordinator in the Division of Imaging Sciences at King's College London. In this role, he attended the upgrade vivas of all students, and managed to ask penetrating questions in any area of imaging.
Despite his international renown, Glen is a truly modest man who always puts the needs of his students and the people he works with before himself. A brilliant scientist who has dedicated 40 years to the advancement of nuclear medicine and a well deserving recipient of the Norman Veall Award.
Tribute by Sarah Allen, Guy's and St Thomas’ Hospital
Radiopharmaceutical chemistry lost another of its greats recently. Alun Jones, who died in October, spent his career at Harvard Medical School where, together with a fellow Welsh expat, Alan Davison, he performed the fundamental organometallic chemistry which led to the development of sestamibi. However, the significance of this basic research was not appreciated at the time. I recall Alan Davison on a lecture tour in 1979–1980 where the radiopharmacy community shook its head and said: this will never amount to anything. How wrong we were! Sestamibi is the most commercially successful radiopharmaceutical in history.
Originally from Rhyl, Wales, Alun Jones got his degree from the University of Liverpool. I was once told a wonderful story about his time there, and I hope it is true. In his role as social convenor of the student union, he booked a local band to play some months in the future. Then, in October 1962, ‘Love Me Do’ hit the charts, but a few weeks later the Beatles had to play the student union for the contracted 10 quid each.
Meetings in the UK
UK Radiopharmacy Workshop
Date: 11 January 2013
Venue: The Beeches Conference Centre, Bournville, Birmingham
2013 Edinburgh Clinical Research Methodology Course
Date: 21–22 February 2013
Venue: John McIntyre Conference Centre, University of Edinburgh
2nd Annual SPECT/CT Symposium: Current Status and Future Directions of SPECT/CT Imaging
Date: 25 February 2013
Venue: British Institute of Radiology, London
PET/MRI… Do we need it?
Date: 1 March 2013
Venue: British Institute of Radiology, London
British Nuclear Medicine Society 41st Annual Meeting
Date: 22–24 April 2013
BIR President's Conference 2013: Cancer imaging for personalised treatment
Date: 24–25 April 2013
Venue: Savoy Place, London
IRMER Update 2013
Date: 8 July 2013
Venue: British Institute of Radiology, London
Nuclear Technologies for Health Symposium
Date: 8–9 January 2013
Venue: Nantes, France
2nd European Conference on Clinical Neuroimaging
Date: 11–12 February 2013
Venue: Lille University School of Medicine, Lille, France
State-of-the-Art Molecular Imaging in Cancer Biology and Therapy (SNM/AACR)
Date: 27 February–2 March 2013
Venue: San Diego, California, USA
2nd World Congress on 68Ga Molecular Imaging (PET/CT), Targeted Radionuclide Therapy and Dosimetry (SWC-2013)
Date: 28 February–2 March 2013
Venue: Postgraduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2nd Tubingen PET/MR Workshop
Date: 8–12 April 2013
Venue: University of Tubingen, Germany
51st Annual Congress of the German Society of Nuclear Medicine
Date: 17–20 April 2013
Venue: Bremen, Germany
20th International Symposium on Radiopharmaceutical Sciences
Date: 12–17 May 2013
Venue: International Convention Centre, Jeju, Korea
Society of Nuclear Medicine 60th Annual Meeting
Date: 8–12 June 2013
Venue: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
European Association of Nuclear Medicine Annual Congress
Date: 19–23 October 2013
Venue: Lyon, France
Clinical PET/CT courses, Technologists PET/CT courses, Neuroimaging & Paediatric Courses. www.eanm.org
An ongoing list of events can be found on the BNMS website at www.bnms.org.uk
There are also a number of interesting meetings listed on the British Institute of Radiology website: www.bir.org.uk
Readers are invited to forward details of any relevant meetings which they would like to be included in this list. Please be aware that, owing to publication deadlines, the newsletter is written two months prior to publication.