Automatic concentration and reformulation of PET tracers via microfluidic membrane distillation†
Short-lived radiolabeled tracers for positron emission tomography (PET) must be rapidly synthesized, purified, and formulated into injectable solution just prior to imaging. Current radiosynthesizers are generally designed for clinical use, and the HPLC purification and SPE formulation processes often result in a final volume that is too large for preclinical and emerging in vitro applications. Conventional technologies and techniques for reducing this volume tend to be slow, resulting in radioactive decay of the product, and often require manual handling of the radioactive materials. We present a fully-automated microfluidic system based on sweeping gas membrane distillation to rapidly perform the concentration and formulation process. After detailed characterization of the system, we demonstrate fast and efficient concentration and formulation of several PET tracers, evaluate residual solvent content to establish the safety of the formulated tracers for injection, and show that the formulated tracer can be used for in vivo imaging.