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Reaction in Hand: Microreactor produces radioactive probe in a jiffy

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12:52pm, December 14, 2005

A miniature chemical reactor that whips up a diagnostic tool could widen the availability of positron-emission tomography (PET) scans, say the reactor's inventors.

PET uses radioactive molecules to image metabolism or other physiological functions. The most commonly administered probe is a radioactive version of glucose that reveals tumors, which take up more of this nutrient than regular cells do.

Making radioactive probes requires expensive machinery. Radioactive elements are generated by particle accelerators known as cyclotrons. Commercial synthesizers costing about $140,000 then chemically incorporate the radioelement into a desired molecule.

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