Torres Quevedo Grant – Roberto Chicharro

GRANT CALL: Torres Quevedo Grants for Contracts
PROJECT TITLE: Development of Radiological and Magnetic Resonance Imaging Contrast Media

Contrast agents currently constitute an essential tool in diagnostic imaging studies. In the past century, with the discovery of X-rays and the incipient development of Radiology, the need arose to create substances capable of enhancing certain anatomical structures and certain pathologies, in order to achieve greater diagnostic accuracy. This gave rise to contrast agents, regularly used since the beginnings of this speciality. To specialists, they are an essential and one of the most important tools to detect and diagnose multiple pathologies, monitor the treatments implemented and carry out interventionist radiology practices, thanks to their effectiveness, speed, ease of use and scarce adverse effects.

The contrast media currently used by the Spanish Healthcare System, specifically non-ionic contrast and RMI media, must be imported from other countries since there are no domestic companies that produce them. This state of affairs increases the cost – already considerably high – associated with the different diagnosis techniques, which represents a problem in the current economic climate.

The fact that only a few companies in the world manufacture them (none of them in our country) is due to the complexity of the synthesis process involved and a number of problems which must be overcome through the present project. The synthesis of these compounds is not easy. It requires a high level of know-how, and currently existing processes are ineffective and require expensive raw materials; therefore their production is very costly. Moreover, given that these are compounds intended for use in human beings, the entire process must be strictly controlled and a rigorous analysis methodology developed to detect any impurities. Within this context, it is of crucial importance to optimise the contrast agent synthesis processes to achieve an efficient technology leading to products free from hazardous impurities.

JUSTESA IMAGEN S.A.U was awarded a Torres Quevedo Grant in the 2013 call (File identification number: PTQ- 13-05880), funded by the Ministry of Science and co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) for a total amount of €29,475.00.

This grant has allowed the company to employ a PhD Chemist to carry out R&D work. This addition to Justesa’s R&D staff will make possible the development of new synthesis routes to optimise the process of obtaining iodinated contrast agents for radiology and macrocyclic contrast agents for NMR, together with the validation of analytical methods developed to assess the purity of such contrast agents, in order to obtain high-quality and safe contrast agents for radiology and nuclear magnetic resonance in an efficient manner.