campus of the VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam:

Perry Kruijer - Vision of Cyclotron

Perry Kruijer |

The VUmc Medical Imaging Center plays a key role in BV Cyclotron VU‘s vision of the future. Construction of the Imaging Center is due to finish in 2015, and BV Cyclotron VU will then move into a brand new building. Alongside many other employees at BV Cyclotron VU, Chief Executive Officer Perry Kruijer is working hard to make that transition as smooth as possible.

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
Kruijer explains: ”This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our company. The transition to the new imaging center is both challenging as well as exciting.
On the challenging side, we face the huge task of dismantling the Philips cyclotron. It is our first cyclotron, installed in 1964, and a key factor in the success of our company. Some of our staff have worked with this machine for almost half a century (see: Interview with Peter van Leuffen), so it has found not only a place in our heads, but also in our hearts."

Radiopharmaceuticals are our lifeblood
"Another challenge is to ensure that our production will be continuous during all stages of the move to the new imaging center. We cannot afford to stop our radiopharmaceutical production for, let‘s say, one year, to move our cyclotrons, hot cells, equipment, and people to the new building. We have a responsibility toward hospitals and patients to continue the availability of our radiopharmaceuticals. Furthermore, the daily production of these radiopharmaceuticals is our lifeblood. It all boils down to the fact that we have to invest heavily in our new equipment starting in 2014. One of the things we have to do is buy and install a new cyclotron. Then we need to build hot labs and install new production lines. Lastly, everything needs to be tested and verified. All of these responsibilities present remarkable challenges for us as an organization.“

Another sketch of the VUmc Imaging Center in Amsterdam planned to be open in 2015 |

New opportunities
On the other hand, moving to the Imaging Center opens up many new opportunities. Kruijer explains: ”The building that we are located in now was part of the VU University Amsterdam. At the time when it was built in the 1960's, it was also home to the physicists who performed research using the cyclotron. It was never designed to house a production company for radiopharmaceuticals and radionuclides. If you look at our labs and office space now, you will see that we have labs and offices in every corner of the building. We are definitely running out of space."

A tremendous impulse
"The new imaging building will be designed much more efficiently for our production processes. This will give a tremendous impulse to our existing and future production lines.
In the architectural plans, we have already planned space for the production of several exciting new products that we will develop in the next few years. For instance, within a few months we will start producing Florbetaben, which is a 18F-labeled Alzheimer tracer, on a commercial basis. Our partner IBA will distribute it, and we believe that many patients will benefit from this new product.
Over the next years we will also set up production lines for such new products as [18F]Choline, [18F]NaF, and [18F]DOPA. These are well-known and tested products."

Cooperation with IBA
A sketch of the VUmc Imaging Center in Amsterdam planned to be open in 2015 |

"In the new imaging building, we will be accompanied by many experts in the fields of radiology and molecular imaging. I expect there will be significant synergies from working together with these experts, in terms of research as well as commercial opportunities. With our new location, I also expect that our cooperation with IBA will be strongly intensified. IBA is our most important partner in PET.
As IBA is a globally operating company, our increased cooperation will also improve our international impact. This means that our focus as a company will shift to the international market. I am truly excited about this. Over the past decades, we have contributed substantially to the quick and successful rise of PET in Dutch hospitals. Now we are ready to supply radiopharmaceuticals and radiotracers worldwide.
I am very optimistic when I look into the future of BV Cyclotron VU. PET is a tremendously powerful technology, and we are ready to deliver the radiopharmaceuticals and radionuclides necessary for the bright future that awaits us."