Department of Radiology

Nuclear Medicine and Tracer Kinetics

Atoms for Medicine
  • Exploration of radionuclides for medical use (in collaboration with the Research Center for Nuclear Physics, Osaka University)
  • Development of high-precision molecular imaging equipment (PET with semiconductor detectors, permanent magnet PET-MRI)
  • Development of novel radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosis and treatment (cancer-specific diagnostic agents for PET, particle emitters for internal radiation therapy of intractable cancers)
  • Construction of Nuclear Medicine imaging big data (databases of healthy subjects, treatment selection, estimation of prognosis)
  • Diagnostics based on biological imaging (malignancies, CNS diseases, immune disorders, cardiovascular diseases etc.)
Nuclear Medicine and Tracer Kinetics
Our laboratory was established as the Center of Biochemical Research and Education, and Tracer Information Analytics (under the direction of prof. Tsunehiko Nishimura), affiliated with the Graduate School of Medicine of Osaka University. We are responsible for nuclear imaging in Osaka University Hospital as the nuclear medicine department, and for animal PET in affiliated Medical Imaging Center for Translational Research.

Being an international research and educational center, and working in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency we have accepted over 40 foreign researchers to study the organization and operation of cutting-edge diagnostic imaging and therapeutic facilities as well as radiation safety management.

Nuclear Medicine which originated in the 1940s, is a relatively new field of Medicine where energy released from the atom is applied in life science research and medical care. It started when beta rays from iodine 131 were first used to treat thyroid cancer and Graves’ disease. In the 1960s, radioimmunoassay made a great contribution to the clinical practice, because measurement of trace amounts of active substances in blood became available. After invention of the gamma camera in the 1960s and PET in the 1970s, along with radiopharmacy development, nuclear medicine has become part of everyday life as an imaging modality allowing to study pathologies at the molecular level. After year 2000, when imaging equipment integrated with CT and MR appeared, Nuclear Medicine gained new impetus to develop as a diagnostic technique combining functional and structural imaging. In our laboratory the first in the world permanent magnet PET-MR for small animals has been constructed, and is now being used for molecular pathology studies in affiliated Medical Imaging Center for Translational Research. We also collaborate with the Research Center for Nuclear Physics of Osaka University, equipped with the world-class accelerator allowing to produce and purify medical radioisotopes with highest precision. Among others, alpha emitters for internal radiation therapy and positron emitters for diagnostic purposes can be produced. Alpha particles have dozens of times higher cell-killing effect then beta particles, thus alpha emitters conjugated with tumor-specific antibodies can be employed for metastatic cancer treatment. The state-of-the-art of Nuclear Medicine is the combination of treatment and diagnostics (Theranostics) of malignancies using alpha emitting nuclides and high energy beta emitters.

Research themes

1) Internal radiation therapy of intractable cancers using alpha emitters like astatine 211.
2) Development of malignant tumor-specific amino acid PET tracers
3) Image analysis of inflammatory and immune diseases
4) Assessment of blood flow and oxygen metabolism in tumors and normal organs
5) Construction and analysis of databases of healthy subjects based on glucose metabolism imaging