IAEA contribution to the development of copper-64 radiopharmaceuticals for theranostic applications

Amir R. Jalilian*, Joao A. Osso, Julia Vera-Araujo, Vijay Kumar, Matthew J Harris, Bianca Gutfilen, Brigitte Guérin, Hongyu Li, Fedor Zhuravlev, Rubel Chakravarty, Behrouz Alirezapour, Miguel A. Ávila-Rodríguez, Irfan U Khan, Ibrahim Aljammaz, Thaer Assaad, Gert Luurtsema, Jeff Smith, Adriano Duatti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review


Copper-64 is a very attractive radioisotope with unique nuclear properties that allow using it as both a diagnostic and therapeutic agent, thus providing an almost ideal example of a theranostic radionuclide. A characteristic of Cu-64 stems from the intrinsic biological nature of copper ions that play a fundamental role in a large number of cellular processes. Cu-64 is a radionuclide that reflects the natural biochemical pathways of Cu-64 ions, therefore, can be exploited for the detection and therapy of certain malignancies and metabolic diseases. Beside these applications of Cu-64 ions, this radionuclide can be also used for radiolabelling bifunctional chelators carrying a variety of pharmacophores for targeting different biological substrates. These include peptide-based substrates and immunoconjugates as well as small-molecule bioactive moieties. Fueled by the growing interest of Member States (MS) belonging to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) community, a dedicated Coordinated Research Project (CRP) was initiated in 2016, which recruited thirteen participating MS from four continents. Research activities and collaborations between the participating countries allowed for collection of an impressive series of results, particularly on the production, preclinical evaluation and, in a few cases, clinical evaluation of various 64Cu-radiopharmaceuticals that may have potential impact on future development of the field. Since this CRP was finalized at the beginning of 2020, this short review summarizes outcomes, outputs and results of this project with the purpose to propagate to other MS and to the whole scientific community, some of the most recent achievements on this novel class of theranostic 64Cu-radiopharmaceticals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuarterly Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Copper-64
  • IAEA
  • CRP
  • Positron emission tomography
  • [64Cu]CuCl2
  • Theranostic
  • Radiometallic radiopharmaceuticals
  • Peptides


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