Tracer Development

The Radiopharmacy laboratory at Ghent University is a research and manufacturing laboratory jointly operated by the Department of Pharmaceutical Analysis of Ghent University and the Nuclear Medicine Department of Ghent University Hospital. In this collaboration we bring radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic and therapeutic use from bench-to-bedside.

Radiopharmaceuticals are a group of pharmaceutical drugs labeled with a radionuclide. These can be used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Short-lived radionuclides combined with a molecule with a specific biochemical activity form a diagnostic tracer, which can be visualized in vivo on a molecular imaging system. When used as a therapeutic agent the radiopharmaceutical delivers the treating ionizing radiation on the targeted place in the body.

The Radiopharmacy laboratory is a research laboratory of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the Ghent University. The laboratory mainly focusses on radiotracer design including chemical synthesis of precursors and reference standards, radiolabeling, purification and analysis. Newly developed tracers are tested in vitro and in vivo in small animals (rat and mice).

The cyclotron and hotlab facilities of the Nuclear Medicine Department of the Ghent University Hospital provide GMP manufacturing capacity for a wide variety of radiopharmaceuticals applied in clinical routine and clinical study for diagnosis (PET/SPECT) and therapy. A team of ten people manages the daily routine productions and provides the expertise to upscale and validate new synthesis processes and to develop quality control methods according to pharmaceutical standards.

Beside the standard SPECT tracers for routine applications several cyclotron based PET tracers can be produced. These are listed in the table below.


Biochemical process


Glucose analogue


In vivo imaging of the serotonin transporter (SERT)


Alfa-2 adrenoreceptor


In vivo imaging of the dopamine D2 receptor


Hypoxia imaging agent


Cellular membrane phospholipids, mainly in cancer


Study on serotonin 5-HT2A receptors


Amino acid analogue

18F-labelled fluoroalkylphenylalanine-analogues

Development of specific LAT-1 transporter ligands

18F-labelled cholic acid analogues

Development of PET-tracers for study on altered hepatobiliary transport (drug induced cholestasis)


PET-study on the uptake and transport of carbon dioxide in plants

* available for human application