DOE accelerates evaluation of new medical radioisotopes

April 13, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy announced on April 11 that it will distribute $1 million to three awardees to evaluate newly developed radioisotopes for potential therapeutic use in preclinical and clinical trials. The funding is provided by the DOE Isotope Program, which produces isotopes for use in science, medicine, and industry that would otherwise be unavailable or in short supply.

“The novel isotopes produced by the DOE Isotope Program can enable transformative approaches to cancer treatments with levels of efficacy that have not been seen before, as well as innovative technologies for imaging of disease and the human body,” said Jehanne Gillo, director of the DOE Isotope Program. “It is essential to advance these isotopes for use in preclinical and clinical trials, as they have potentially enormous benefits to the field of modern medicine.”

Therapeutic targets: Some therapeutic radioisotopes hold the promise of treating cancer and infectious diseases with precision, in some cases on the level of a single cell. Auger electron emitters, for instance, deposit their decay energy over a distance less than one-half the diameter of a human cell. Antimony-119 (Sb-119) is an Auger electron emitter, and the design of new chemical agents to trap and deliver Sb-119 is being investigated under awards issued to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco have received an award to investigate the use of a diagnostic radioisotope analogue, cerium-134, which could improve the therapeutic potential of the alpha-emitter actinium-225. The study could permit clinicians to use Ce-134 to determine where in the body Ac-225 would go once injected and how much Ac-225 would be needed, based on the size of the target site.

The projects were selected by competitive peer review under DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement 2532, “Advancing Novel Medical Isotopes for Clinical Trials,” in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health. Total funding is $1 million for awards of up to two years’ duration, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations. More information is available here.

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