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Breaking new ground in tumor diagnosis and treatment

SWAN Isotopen runs one of Europe’s most modern commercial radioisotope production facilities on the campus of Bern University Hospital. Its products are used for tumor diagnosis and therapy monitoring.

At Bern University Hospital, industry and academic research go hand in hand.
At Bern University Hospital, industry and academic research go hand in hand.

Founded in 2007 by the Inselspital foundation together with private shareholders, SWAN Isotopen produces and sells radiopharmaceuticals for molecular diagnostics and develops new diagnostic products in close collaboration with radiochemistry and high-energy physics research groups at the University of Bern. In 2012, the company moved into the SWAN House, a high-tech facility located on the campus of Bern University Hospital (Inselspital). The basement of the building houses the cyclotron, a 20-ton particle accelerator. The two upper floors house Inselspital’s state-of-the-art palliative care and nuclear medicine wards. “This innovative, high-tech research and production environment at the heart of the Inselspital campus delivers synergies that we can systematically exploit. We all benefit from the highly complex, networked diversity and infrastructure that is perfectly geared to our needs”, says SWAN Isotopen CEO Dr. Konrade von Bremen.

The cyclotron is used to produce radioisotopes, radioactive variants of normal chemical elements. Within a few hours they break down into nonradioactive substances, and in doing so they emit elementary particles that make tumors visible. At SWAN, radioisotopes are converted into sugar-based radiopharmaceuticals using a highly complex synthesis process. These radiopharmaceuticals are injected into the patient after undergoing strict quality controls. Since the tumor needs energy to grow, it absorbs the sugar and therefore the radioisotopes, revealing its location and extent in the PET CT, a high-tech molecular imaging process. The PET CT can reveal even very small metastases, enabling the oncologist to assess whether the operation, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy was successful, and to adapt future therapies. Patient can therefore receive treatments that are specifically tailored to them and their disease.

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