Puglia-Russia: an alliance for the development of radiopharmaceuticals

Puglia-Russia Meeting on third-millennium Oncology
12 November 2019
Kuwait says thanks to Roberto La Forgia
20 November 2019

“It takes foresight and a vision that goes beyond our borders, up to Russia, where there is the best experience on the use of radiopharmaceuticals”. This is how Michele Emiliano, governor of the Puglia Region, expressed himself on the occasion of the signing of the Memorandum with several authoritative representatives.

Emiliano demonstrated this foresight about a year ago when he received a message on his mobile phone, as he himself says:” In this project I was inspired by a particular person. And it all started with some text messages on my phone. All that happened here is because a gentleman – whom I didn’t know – Roberto La Forgia, who sent me messages saying he was able to do this thing we are talking about today. I don’t know why I listened to him, but I did it and today we are here”.

Thanks to the perseverance of Dr. Roberto La Forgia – the only foreigner who works in the radiopharmaceutical sector of Russian multinational Rosatom, the largest producer of radioisotopes in the world – this led to the signing of an important memorandum of understanding between Puglia and Russia, so that they can now work together to carry out joint research and scientific cooperation projects in the nuclear medical sector, in cancer research and in hospital management.

Handshake between Alexander Shibanov and Roberto La Forgia

It happened during the conference “2019 Oncology of third millennium managed by innovation and precision” by AReSS Puglia, at the headquarters of the Regional Presidency, where the Memorandum – which will last four years – was signed by the President of the Puglia Region Michele Emiliano, the Pugliese Oncological Network director Giammarco Surico, the Rosatom Healthcare general director Alexander Shibanov, Moscow Sechenov University representative Marina Sekachev and the Isotope general interim director of Boris Victorovich Akakiev.

This protocol is of great importance, since it lays the foundations for scientific cooperation in all fields of nuclear medicine, oncology and research, i.e. the new frontiers of the third millennium cancer medicine.

As regards radiopharmaceutical research, Russia is one of the most scientifically avant-garde realities in the world.

Roberto La Forgia (left) and Alexander Shibanov

New scientific discoveries, high technology forms at the service of oncology can develop and grow only through a dense and profitable sharing, cooperation and exchange between the best scientific realities of Russia and the Apulian territory.

As explained by the director of the Pugliese Oncological Network, Dr. Giammarco Surico: “In the era of the globalisation of medicine, international relations are fundamental. We have a model, i.e. the Apulian Oncological Network, which today also reaches Moscow to connect experts with one another.”

However, it will not be just scientific research and exchanges between great research professionals; there is also the objective of creating strategic agreements between Apulian SMEs and large Russian companies.

A concept which has also been reiterated by Alexander Shibanov, the general manager of JSC Rusatom Healthcare (a company of the Rosatom group): “We intend to develop the production of radiopharmaceuticals in collaboration with companies and health authorities in Puglia.”

During the works, Dr. Roberto La Forgia explained the role of JSC Isotope, the Russian state company which, thanks to its synergy with companies and research institutes dealing with medicine, industry and science, distributes in as many as fifty states of the world stable and radioactive isotopes in the medical field.

JSC and Rosatom can count on a large number of nuclear reactors that enable them to produce radionuclides. “With them I have seen everything I studied live” – ​​pointed out Dr. La Forgia.

The role of the Apulian scientist within the Russian multinational is to bring radionuclides (ie the elements that will be used for cancer diagnosis and therapies) to a level of safety that allows injectability in the human organism.

“It is a matter of moving from the nuclear reactor to man,” added La Forgia, pointing out the complexity of the processes being completed; as in the case of Lutetium-177 (Lutetium), i.e. the radionuclide now usable as a therapeutic strategy and recently adopted by Novartis.

During the subsequent intervention by Prof. Giuseppe Rubini, Director of the Center for Nuclear Medicine of the Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Consorziale Universitaria Policlinico di Bari, the nature and function of these new generation radiopharmaceuticals was explained, together with the necessary preparation procedures.

The goal of the new collaboration between Russia and the Puglia Region has however been well highlighted by all the speakers: “at the core of all national and international research procedures and experimentation, there is always the patient.

 

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