Nuclear Medicine Market

Global Industry Analysis (2018 – 2021) – Growth Trends and Market Forecast (2022 – 2026)


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Nuclear Medicine Market to Expand with Rising Need for Precise Diagnoses, and Treatment

The discovery of X-rays more than a century ago profoundly changed the practice of medicine. Unlike conventional imaging studies that produce primarily structural pictures, nuclear medicine, and molecular imaging allows for quick, safe, early, and more accurate medical diagnoses. Nuclear technology has multiple applications that are fundamental to our daily life. Nuclear science utility in modern medicine is profound. Its extensive usage and applications in medicine are established, popular, proven, and well-known. It is well known that techniques employing nuclear particles, and radiation to understand, diagnose, and treat diseases (developing more effective therapies to personalising medical treatment) are continuously gaining importance in healthcare. Nearly 15 million people in the US alone undergo some kind of diagnostic test(s) each year with a radioactive drug, either in vivo, or in vitro. Roughly 30 million people in the world benefit from nuclear medicine, says research. With growing need for reliable, precise diagnosis, and treatment, the demand for nuclear medicine is likely to expand in future.

Increasing Dependence on Imaging Technology

Medical professionals use diagnostic techniques such as radio pharmaceuticals, radio scans or radioisotopes, and apply radiotherapy treatments that include X-rays as well as radiations from radioactive elements, or radiation-producing equipment such as accelerators. In contrast to radiologic procedures that determine the presence of disease based on structural appearance, nuclear medicine studies determine the cause of a medical problem based on organ, or tissue function (physiology). In nuclear medicine, radioisotopes are introduced (internally) into the body, whereas in radiology, X-rays penetrate the body from outside. Beyond diagnostics, and the treatment of diseases, nuclear technology is used to sterilise medical equipment, learn about biological processes with the use of tracers, or study the properties of tumorous cells, among other uses.

Nuclear Medicine - A Way Forward

While radiology has been in use roughly for the past century, nuclear medicine began approximately 50 years ago. The first radiopharmaceutical to be widely used was the fission product, iodine-131, also referred to as the atomic cocktail. The main advantage of a nuclear medicine examination is the possibility to obtain effective, and unique information about the examined organ’s function. It offers good complementarity beside X-ray, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) modalities, which display better anatomical images (spatial resolution).

Today, about 1/3rd of all procedures used in modern hospitals involve radiation or radioactivity, and all hospitals worldwide use radioisotopes in medicine. These procedures, among the best, and most effective life-saving tools available, are safe, painless, and do not require anaesthesia. They are also helpful in a broad spectrum of medical specialities, from neurology, oncology, paediatrics, pneumology, cardiology, to psychiatry. The risks associated with nuclear medicine are insignificant, whereas the benefits are invaluable. These tests provide functional, and anatomic information unlike any other procedures – providing the most useful information for diagnosis, and treatment. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans can tell whether or not the tumours are malignant, or benign. These tests also have the ability to detect diseases in their earliest stages, and sometimes even before the diseases cause any visible symptoms in patients.

Advanced Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine does not necessarily mean one suffers from a fatal disease; it is similar to obtaining complementary functional information in addition to computed tomography (CT) scan, or MRI. X-rays, MRI scanners, computed axial tomography (CAT) scanners, and ultrasound scanners - each of these is a non-invasive procedure, and use nuclear technology to troubleshoot different parts of the body, and diagnose conditions. More advanced nuclear medicine uses computers, detectors, and radioisotopes to give doctors even more information about a patient’s internal function. Known as nuclear imaging, these procedures include bone scanning, PET, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and cardiovascular imaging. The use of these procedures depends on a patient’s symptoms. Radioisotopes are useful because the radiation they emit can be located in the body. The isotopes can be administered by injection, inhalation, or orally. A gamma camera captures images from isotopes in the body that emit radiation, followed by computers enhancing the image, further allowing physicians to detect tumours, and/or fractures, measure blood flow, or determine thyroid, and pulmonary functions.

Tough Regulatory Norms

Global entities such as The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM), and The British Nuclear Medicine Society (BNMS) regulate the use of radioactive material, including radiopharmaceuticals. They require all nuclear medicine facilities to be licensed. To get the license, the concerned facilities must prove they have a radiation safety programme in place to protect both the patients, and the staff. The entire process is more often than not cumbersome, and gradual.

New Technologies Give Rise to Innovations in Nuclear Medicine Market

Manufacturers continue to work and produce technologies that define innovations within nuclear medicine.

  • Siemens Healthineers xSPECT Quant - currently working with a range of isotopes: Iodine-123, Lutetium-177, Indium-111, and Technetium-99m – quantifies data for better outcomes
  • Precision with Biograph Vision (next-generation PET/CT) – enhanced image quality, and lesion detectability
  • Synthetic melanin protects from radiation damage - Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new biomaterial, selenomelanin that can help necessarily protect people from radiation
  • United Imaging Healthcare, a company out of Shanghai, China, won the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) clearance for its uEXPLORER - a combined PET and CT scanner. The device can perform whole-body scans using both imaging modalities at the same time

Prominent Companies in Nuclear Medicine Space

Advanced Accelerator Applications, Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Blue Earth Diagnostics Ltd., Curium Pharma, Digirad Corporation, Jubilant Radiopharma, Karyopharm, Lantheus Holdings, Inc., Northstar Nuclear Medicine, Precirix NV, Sinotau Pharmaceuticals, Solcom, and Zionexa are some of the leading players in the global nuclear medicine market.

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