S. Korea's homemade medical radioactive isotype 'GE-68' to be exported to US

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : May 9, 2022, 17:23 Updated : May 12, 2022, 11:40

[Courtesy of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute]

SEOUL -- A medical radioactive isotype called "Germanium-68" produced by a state nuclear energy body in South Korea will be exported to the United States for the first time. The radioactive isotope will be used as a raw material for cancer diagnosis and as calibration sources to maintain the accuracy of radiation imaging equipment such as positron emission tomography.

Germanium-68 (GE-68) can be delivered for a long time because about 270 days is required to reduce to half of its initial value. The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) has produced GE-68 using RFT-30 cyclotron, a proton accelerator for radioisotope production. The first batch of GE-68 produced by KAERI will go to Sanders Medical, a U.S. medical device company. 

Countries like the U.S., Russia and Germany control more than 90 percent of the global GE-68 market. However, securing a new supplier has become essential because of its growing demands. For its initial shipment, KAERI will export about five millicuries (mCi) worth about 10 million won ($7,855) to create a calibration source product. The institute aims to produce 100 mCi in 2022.
"Germanium-68 is a high-value-added radioactive isotope that can be used to develop new drugs," Jung Kyung-il, head of the Korea Association for Radiation Application, said, adding the export of Germanium-68 has a significant meaning for the development of the domestic radioactive isotope sector. 
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