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The difluoromethyl functionality has proven useful in drug discovery, as it can modulate the properties of bioactive molecules. For PET imaging, this structural motif has been largely underexploited in (pre)clinical radiotracers due to a lack of user-friendly radiosynthetic routes. This Minireview provides an overview of the challenges facing radiochemists and summarises the efforts made to date to access 18F-difluoromethyl-containing radiotracers. Two distinct approaches have prevailed, the first of which relies on 18F-fluorination. A second approach consists of a 18F-difluoromethylation process, which uses 18F-labelled reagents capable of releasing key reactive intermediates such as the [18F]CF2H radical or [18F]difluorocarbene. Finally, we provide an outlook for future directions in the radiosynthesis of [18F]CF2H compounds and their application in tracer radiosynthesis.

Original publication




Journal article


Angew Chem Int Ed Engl

Publication Date



Difluoromethylation, Fluorine, Positron Emission Tomography, Radiochemistry, Radiopharmaceuticals