22 Mar 2013

Alpha-Immunotherapy: better measurements to improve cancer treatment

Measurements of the half-life of <sup>230</sup>U and <sup>226</sup>Th were
Measurements of the half-life of <sup>230</sup>U and <sup>226</sup>Th were performed in JRC laboratories
© EU, 2013

By measuring reference decay data for a suite of novel therapeutic nuclides (uranium -230, actinium-225, bismuth-213 and thorium-226) to be used in alpha-immunotherapy, the JRC has improved the accuracy of the doses received during cancer treatment.

Alpha-particle emitting radionuclides are particularly effective in killing cancer cells, because they can deliver a high amount of energy at short range, without affecting surrounding healthy human tissue. The received dose is proportional to the energy.

The JRC has gathered crucial data for the calculation of the dose received by a cancer patient, which are linked to the half-life of these nuclides and the energy of the alpha-particles that they emit.

Half-lives are fundamental to determine how long the product will remain active in a patient's body. Therefore, a more precise value for the half-life allows the received radiation dose to be better controlled.

The measurements were performed in the radionuclide metrology laboratory of the JRC's Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM, located in Geel, Belgium), in close collaboration with other JRC Institutes and with JRC-produced isotopes.

The knowledge of these therapeutic nuclides has now significantly improved, as former information was based on scarce and imprecise measurements. The findings of this extensive measurement campaign have been made public in a series of seven scientific articles. A recent publication focuses on one of the most promising nuclides, 213Bi, which has already shown remarkable therapeutic responses.