High purity production and potential applications of copper-60 and copper-61

Deborah W. McCarthy, Laura A. Bass, P. Duffy Cutler, Ruth E. Shefer, Robert E. Klinkowstein, Pilar Herrero, Jason S. Lewis, Cathy S. Cutler, Carolyn J. Anderson, Michael J. Welch

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Previously we described the high yield production of 64Cu using a target system designed specifically for low energy, biomedical cyclotrons. In this study, the use of this target system for the production of 60Cu and 61Cu is described and the utility of these isotopes in the labeling of biomolecules for tumor and hypoxia imaging is demonstrated, 60Cu and 61Cu were produced by the 60Ni(p,n)60Cu, 61Ni(p,n)61Cu, and 60Ni(d,n)61Cu nuclear reactions. The nickel target (>99% enriched or natural nickel) was plated onto a gold disk as described previously (54-225 μm thickness) and irradiated (14.7 MeV proton beam and 8.1 MeV deuteron beam). The copper isotopes were separated from the nickel via ion exchange chromatography and the radioisotopic purity was assessed by gamma spectroscopy. Yields of up to 865 mCi of 60Cu have been achieved using enriched 60Ni. 61Cu has been produced with a maximum yield of 144 mCi using enriched 61Ni and 72 mCi using enriched 60Ni. Specific activities (using enriched material) ranged from 80 to 300 mCi/μg Cu for 60Cu and from 20 to 81 mCi/μg Cu for 61Cu. Bombardments of natural Ni targets were performed using both protons and deuterons. Yields and radioisotopic impurities were determined and compared with that for enriched materials. 60Cu was used to radiolabel diacetyl-bis(N4-methylthiosemicarbazone), ATSM. 60Cu-ATSM was injected into rats that had an occluded left anterior descending coronary artery. Uptake of 60Cu-ATSM in the hypoxic region of the heart was visualized clearly using autoradiography. In addition, 60Cu- ATSM was injected into dogs and excellent images of the heart and heart walls were obtained using positron emission tomography (PET). 61Cu was labeled to 1,4,8,11-tetraazacyclotetradecane-N,N',N'',N'''-tetraacetic acid-octreotide (TETA-octreotide) and the PET images of tumor-bearing rats were obtained up to 2 h postinjection. After decay of the 61Cu, the same rat was injected with 64Cu-TETA-octreotide and the images were compared. The tumor images obtained using 61Cu were found to be superior to those using 64Cu as predicted based on the larger abundance of positrons emitted by 61Cu vs. 64Cu.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-358
Number of pages8
JournalNuclear Medicine and Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 1999


  • Cu-60
  • Cu-61
  • Cu-64
  • PET
  • Production

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    McCarthy, D. W., Bass, L. A., Cutler, P. D., Shefer, R. E., Klinkowstein, R. E., Herrero, P., Lewis, J. S., Cutler, C. S., Anderson, C. J., & Welch, M. J. (1999). High purity production and potential applications of copper-60 and copper-61. Nuclear Medicine and Biology, 26(4), 351-358. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0969-8051(98)00113-9