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The Nuclear Technologies in Medicine and the Biosciences Initiative (NTeMBI), a national technology platform, is managed by Necsa and supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

NTeMBI functions as a high-level Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) initiative providing a framework to consolidate expertise and to implement new strategic initiatives relating to R&D on nuclear technologies in medicine and the biosciences on a local, regional and international level.

Since inception in 2010, the program has enabled an identification of strengths within the nuclear technology in medicine and biosciences research community and the subsequent correlation of these capabilities against national technology and healthcare priorities. The programme has made considerable strides in capacity building in an under-resourced industry evident by a large number of graduates and international peer-reviewed publications that have been produced. In addition, a significant number of pre-clinical trials and first in human studies have been carried out on what can be viewed as a modest budget.

Going forward, however, NTeMBI’s focus will be more streamlined in order to maximise return on investment by supporting projects that are best aligned to deliver high impact research with high socio-economic value. NTeMBI will fund the most prominent researchers that have demonstrated commitment to delivering on NTeMBI’s objectives. The model for this revised strategy centres on the establishment of a focused Nuclear Medicine & Biosciences technology innovation cluster programme that would create an enabling environment to build an industry by bringing alignment and building on current capabilities residing within HEIs and commercial companies within South Africa. This cluster aims to initiate and bring together dedicated research and development in the fields of radiochemistry, radiopharmacy and radiobiology as well as focused commercialisation. The cluster will also aim to perform enabling studies to do research and postgraduate training in modern radiation therapy methods that includes X-rays, protons, neutron and alpha particles.

Development of the cluster model is currently in progress with DST, TIA and the current NTeMBI Steering Committee. Finalisation of this concept is expected in the next financial year. The details of the cluster will be made available once the concept note has been approved.

NTeMBI Projects

Projects that have formed part of the NTeMBI portfolio over the years can be categorised as follows:

  • Development and assessment of metal containing drugs for cancer treatment using radiolabelling;
  • Imaging and therapy for cancer and other diseases using radioisotopes of rhenium and technetium compounds linked to biologically active molecules;
  • Imaging as a tool in the development of drug delivery systems and new drugs –especially for tuberculosis;
  • Imaging as a tool in developing new diagnostics and drugs for infection – especially for tuberculosis;
  • Imaging brain receptors using radiolabelled compounds;
  • The use of radiolabelled receptor site targeting compounds for early detection and therapy of cancer;
  • C-14 labelling for biodistribution and pharmacokinetic studies;
  • Imaging biomarkers using radiolabels;
  • Assessing the Sterile Insect Technique for malaria mosquitoes in a South African setting;
  • Radiosensitivity in breast and cervical cancer;
  • Assessing the Sterile Insect Technique for malaria mosquitoes in a South Africa settings;
  • Radiosensitivity in breast and cervical cancer;
  • Alpha-emitting therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals;
  • Radiolabelling of monoclonal antibodies;
  • HIV/AIDS related cervical cancer;
  • Nuclear medicine imaging related to malaria;
  • The use of radiolabelled compounds for cancer diagnosis and therapy

In the new proposed technology innovation cluster, the structure & subsequent projects would comprise of the following elements:

a) Identification of lead compounds
b) Laboratory synthesis
c) Radiolabeling
d) Pre-clinical imaging
d) Clinical trials
e) Commercialisation

Any technology that could give South Africa a competitive advantage must and will be explored. The cluster will be ultimately set-up to explore, develop and improve on anything Radiopharmaceutical related in an engaging and integrated manner to address African challenges.

Images of a rat injected with a Cu-64 radiolabelled compound for tumor targeting. From L-R: 1, 3, 6 & 24 hours post injection. Uptake of the compound is visible in the tumour (indicated by the red box).

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is appointed by Necsa in consultation with DST. The current Steering Committee is:

Some of the current members who have served on the committee since the inception of NTeMBI will resign to make way for the nomination of new representatives from their institutions. The NTeMBI Steering Committee will form part of the new governance framework in the cluster model.


  • Website
  • www.tia.org.za/
  • www.csir.co.za/
  • www.dst.gov.za/
  • www.tlabs.ac.za/
  • www.mintek.co.za/
  • www.nicd.ac.za/
  • www.nmmu.ac.za/
  • www.nwu.ac.za/
  • www.ntp.co.za/
  • www.sami.org.za/
  • www.mrc.ac.za/
  • www.uct.ac.za/
  • www.ukzn.ac.za/
  • www.ul.ac.za/
  • www.up.ac.za/
  • www.sun.ac.za/
  • www.ufs.ac.za/
  • www.wits.ac.za/
  • Collaborating institutions
  • Technology Innovation Agency
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
  • Department of Science and Technology
  • PET Labs
  • iThemba LABS
  • Mintek
  • National Institute for Communicable Diseases
  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  • North West University
  • NTP Radioisotopes (Pty) Ltd
  • South African Malaria Initiative
  • South African Medical Research Council
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • University of Limpopo
  • University of Pretoria
  • University of Stellenbosch
  • University of the Free State
  • University of the Witwatersrand

Replace current images with:

Images of a rat injected with a Cu-64 radiolabelled compound for tumor targeting. From L-R: 1, 3, 6 & 24 hours post injection. Uptake of the compound is visible in the tumour (indicated by the red box).

National Pre-clinical imaging facility page

This page can be deleted – it should be covered under NuMeRI.

Contact page

NTeMBI Coordinator

Prof Jan Rijn Zeevaart