Applied Radiation

Radiolabeling Group


The Radiolabeling group is situated in the Applied Radiation department of Research and Innovation Division at Necsa. The group benefits from the know-how and infrastructure dedicated to radiolabeling of molecules, analysis of the radiolabeled molecules, cell uptake studies as well as radio imaging. This unique combination of highly specialized competencies in radiolabeling, synthetic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry and in vivo imaging present the expertise and tools for strategic concerns investigation and cutting edge technologies development. Radiolabeling focuses on Radiochemicals (precursors or API’s) and Radiopharmaceuticals in their research ultimately aimed at improving lives through finding new theranostic agents in the area of oncology and infection. The Radiolabeling group is open for collaborative projects (these may include academic institutions and industry partners) that are strategically aligned to the mandate of Necsa. 

Research programs

  • North-West University (NWU)- CARST
  • University of Pretoria/Steve Biko Academic Hospital
  • NuMeRI NPC
  • University of Pretoria-Chemistry Department
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal- NTeMBI
  • University of the Free State- NTeMBI


  • Preparation of Radiochemicals such as 131I
  • Synthesis of bioactive compounds (e.g obliquumol)
  • Synthesis of Ligands (e.g. Nota, Dota Cyclam and Macropa) for radiolabeling with various isotopes
  • Custom synthesis of compounds labelled with 14C and 18F isotopes
  • Complexation of ligands with diagnostic and therapeutic radiometals (e.g 99mTc, 68Ga, 186Re, 109/103Pd, 177Lu, 64Cu and 67
  • Cellular uptake assays


  • Skills transfer to PhD’s, MSc’ and internship students.
  • Postdoctoral fellows via the NRF’s PDP (Professional Development Programme)


  • Radiological licensed facilities to perform R&D with appropriate ventilation and shielding
  • Experimental hot cell for high activity work
  • Instrumentation in our laboratories include
    • Liquid Scintillation counters
    • Dose calibrators
    • Biological sample oxidizer
    • High Pressure Liquid Chromatography equipped with PDA detector and coupled to Mass Spectrometry or beta detector or gamma detector
    • Mass Spectrometry coupled to Thin Layer Chromatography (MS-TLC)


  • The Preclinical Imaging Facility’s (PCIF) Laboratory Animal Technician; Ms J Visser was awarded the best poster at the IAT (Institute of Animal Technology) annual conference in March 2023 held in the UK


  • 20th Biennial Congress of the South African Society of Nuclear Medicine (SASNM 2023):.
    • Cathryn Driver – Best Oral Presentation by a Nuclear Medicine Scientist
    • Biljana Marjanovic-Painter: Best Poster Presentation by a Nuclear Medicine Scientist

Recent high impact papers

  • Albumin-Binding Conventional PSMA Ligands in Combination with 161Tb: Biodistribution, Dosimetry, and Preclinical Therapy. V.J. Tschan et al., 2023, 64, 1624.
  • Relevant of Palladium to Radiopharmaceutical Development Considering Enhanced Coordination Properties of TE1PA. J Pineau et al., 2022, Chemistry – A European Journal, 28, e202201839.
  • Towards the development of a Targeted Albumin-Binding Radioligand: Sysnthesis, Radiolabelling and Preliminary In vivo Studies. C.H Driver et al., Nuclear medicine and Biology, 2020, 94, 53.
  • Synthesis and Antifungal Activity of Chromones and Benzoxepines from the Leaves of Ptaeroxylon obliquum. S. Malefo et al., Journal of Natural Products, 2020, 83, 2508
  • Carbon-14 radiolabeling and tissue distribution evaluation of MMV390048. M.S Sonopo et al., Journal of Labelled Compounds and Radiopharmaceuticals, 2016, 59, 680.

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Melbourne, Australia
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