National Labs fights cancer with medical isotopes

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National Labs fights cancer with medical isotopes

by Heather Mayer, DOTmed News Reporter | September 02, 2010

Unlike other cancer therapies, the alpha particles do little damage to the white blood cells, found deep in the bone tissue, explained Mirzadeh.

"Normally, you go through the healthy cells to get to the tumor," he said, but with these alpha emitters there is relatively little damage.

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Moves to test these medical isotopes on humans in the United States are here but somewhat behind Europe, and making the drug commercially available is a long time off, said Atcher.

"We're several years away from having a product that's going to be used routinely in clinics," he said.

But now that the isotopes are available, the researchers are trying to come up with "clever" ways of using them to treat cancer, said PNNL's Fisher.

The alpha particles "are the most potent agents we have for treating cancer," he said.

Fisher pointed out that the costs of these medical isotopes are unknown at the moment, but he predicts they should be less than other alpha emitters. The government's DOE will be the one to determine cost, he said.

But the DOE's labs are ramping up for human trials now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the green light.

"At that point, if they start human trials here, we will need much more radium-223," said Mirzadeh. "That's where PNNL and ORNL come into the picture."

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