Led research that developed Tc99m-MDP, a short-lived radioactive material that is injected into a vein and absorbed by the bones. The bone metabolizes the agent and shows high- and low-concentrations of it, indicating tumors or lesions in the bone.


SUNY Upstate Medical University


John McAfee, MD, Department of Radiology, Upstate Medical University; Gopal Subramanian, PhD, Department of Radiology, Upstate Medical University


Tc99m-MDP proved better than other imaging agents because it moves quickly from blood to bones, stays long enough for the nuclear medicine staff to get good images, and leaves the body quickly through the urinary tract, reducing the patient’s exposure to radiation. Tc99m-MDP bone scans remain an imaging option available today.


Technetium-99m began to be used in medical imaging in the 1960s. McAfee and Subramanian’s innovation was to chemically attaché technetium-99m to methylene-diphosphonate a ligand known to be preferentially taken up by bone. Attached to MDP, the radiotracer is transported to bones where it concentrates in areas with increased physiological function, such as the site of a fracture or cancerous lesion, creating a radioactive “hot spot” which can easily be detected. Patent applications were filed in 1971 and 1972 by the researchers, resulting three patents covering the use Tc99m-MDP