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Patients visit UCL Radiochemistry Facility

Three patients from The UCLH Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) PPI panel got to see for themselves the new Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) radiochemistry facility at UCL. Professor Erik Arstad, Director of the Facility, and Facility Manager Dr Ramla Awais welcomed the patients and explained radionuclides and some of the processes and procedures used to produce radioactively-labelled compounds (tracers) used in diagnostics.

The radiochemistry lab has received £1.3 million in funding from the BRC over the last few years in order to develop and produce diagnostic tracers for medical research.

Patient representative Terry Emery said: “It’s nice to be given the opportunity to see what goes on in places like this, mostly the public don’t get the opportunity to go into such specialised environments. An awful lot of work goes into developing these medicines, and it’s really helpful to get an insight into that.”

Prof Arstad said the state of the art facility is exciting as it allows new diagnostic tracers to be produced for clinical studies, and he is confident that this will translate into improved outcomes for patients: “We wanted to show members of the public the facility, as a lot of money has been invested over the last few years, and it is important to demonstrate our commitment to improving access to novel and up-to-date diagnostic tracers for patients.

“Further plans for public engagement include development of a short film that will explain what isotopically labelled diagnostic tracers are, and to provide some context around what the risks of having a scan with such tracers. The panel are keen to be involved in helping creating the film and we plan to have something ready over the next few months.”