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Positron emission tomography (PET) has become an invaluable tool for drug discovery and diagnosis. The positron-emitting radionuclide fluorine-18 is frequently used in PET radiopharmaceuticals due to its advantageous characteristics; hence, methods streamlining access to 18F-labelled radiotracers can make a direct impact in medicine. For many years, access to 18F-labelled radiotracers was limited by the paucity of methodologies available, and the poor diversity of precursors amenable to 18F-incorporation. During the last two decades, 18F-radiochemistry has progressed at a fast pace with the appearance of numerous methodologies for late-stage 18F-incorporation onto complex molecules from a range of readily available precursors including those that do not require pre-functionalisation. Key to these advances is the inclusion of new activation modes to facilitate 18F-incorporation. Specifically, new advances in late-stage 19F-fluorination under transition metal catalysis, photoredox catalysis, and organocatalysis combined with the availability of novel 18F-labelled fluorination reagents have enabled the invention of novel processes for 18F-incorporation onto complex (bio)molecules. This review describes these major breakthroughs with a focus on methodologies for C-18F bond formation. This reinvigorated interest in 18F-radiochemistry that we have witnessed in recent years has made a direct impact on 19F-chemistry with many laboratories refocusing their efforts on the development of methods using nucleophilic fluoride instead of fluorination reagents derived from molecular fluorine gas.

Original publication




Journal article


EJNMMI Radiopharm Chem

Publication Date





Fluoride, Fluorine, Positron emission tomography, Radiochemistry, Radiofluorination