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EJNMMI Res. 2013 Jul 15;3(1):53. doi: 10.1186/2191-219X-3-53.

Simplified programming and control of automated radiosynthesizers through unit operations.

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Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging and Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Building 114, 570 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles 90095, CA, USA.



Many automated radiosynthesizers for producing positron emission tomography (PET) probes provide a means for the operator to create custom synthesis programs. The programming interfaces are typically designed with the engineer rather than the radiochemist in mind, requiring lengthy programs to be created from sequences of low-level, non-intuitive hardware operations. In some cases, the user is even responsible for adding steps to update the graphical representation of the system. In light of these unnecessarily complex approaches, we have created software to perform radiochemistry on the ELIXYS radiosynthesizer with the goal of being intuitive and easy to use.


Radiochemists were consulted, and a wide range of radiosyntheses were analyzed to determine a comprehensive set of basic chemistry unit operations. Based around these operations, we created a software control system with a client-server architecture. In an attempt to maximize flexibility, the client software was designed to run on a variety of portable multi-touch devices. The software was used to create programs for the synthesis of several 18F-labeled probes on the ELIXYS radiosynthesizer, with [18F]FDG detailed here. To gauge the user-friendliness of the software, program lengths were compared to those from other systems. A small sample group with no prior radiosynthesizer experience was tasked with creating and running a simple protocol.


The software was successfully used to synthesize several 18F-labeled PET probes, including [18F]FDG, with synthesis times and yields comparable to literature reports. The resulting programs were significantly shorter and easier to debug than programs from other systems. The sample group of naive users created and ran a simple protocol within a couple of hours, revealing a very short learning curve. The client-server architecture provided reliability, enabling continuity of the synthesis run even if the computer running the client software failed. The architecture enabled a single user to control the hardware while others observed the run in progress or created programs for other probes.


We developed a novel unit operation-based software interface to control automated radiosynthesizers that reduced the program length and complexity and also exhibited a short learning curve. The client-server architecture provided robustness and flexibility.

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