Scientists in the Departments of Radiation Oncology and Medicine at the University of Washington (UW) and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Fred Hutch) are directly targeting cancerous cells traveling through patients’ bloodstreams with diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma using an intravenous injection of the radioactive isotope astatine-211 (At-211). The work, its challenges, and its promise were described in a recent news release from the National Isotope Development Center (NIDC), which is managed by the Department of Energy’s Isotope Program.
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In a recent study, Texas A&M University researchers have described a new process to purify astatine-211, a promising radioactive isotope for targeted cancer treatment. Unlike other elaborate purification methods, their technique can extract astatine-211 from bismuth in minutes rather than hours, which can greatly reduce the time between production and delivery to the patient.
“Astatine-211 is currently under evaluation as a cancer therapeutic in clinical trials. But the problem is that the supply chain for this element is very limited because only a few places worldwide can make it,” said Jonathan Burns, research scientist in the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s Nuclear Engineering and Science Center. “Texas A&M University is one of a handful of places in the world that can make astatine-211, and we have delineated a rapid astatine-211 separation process that increases the usable quantity of this isotope for research and therapeutic purposes.”
The researchers added that this separation method will bring Texas A&M one step closer to being able to provide astatine-211 for distribution through the Department of Energy’s Isotope Program’s National Isotope Development Center as part of the University Isotope Network.
Details on the chemical reaction to purify astatine-211 are in the journal Separation and Purification Technology.