News | Radiation Therapy | March 23, 2021

Simple chemical process generates thorium-226 from uranium-230, giving a higher radiation dose that kills cancer tissue while sparing nearby healthy cells

Cancer tissue being bombarded by targeted alpha particles. The generator developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory holds uranium-230, which decays to thorium-226. Further decay produces short-lived daughter isotopes, emitting four more alpha particles resulting in a very high combined radiation dose to destroy cancer cells.

Cancer tissue being bombarded by targeted alpha particles. The generator developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory holds uranium-230, which decays to thorium-226. Further decay produces short-lived daughter isotopes, emitting four more alpha particles resulting in a very high combined radiation dose to destroy cancer cells.


March 23, 2021 — Improved options for cancer treatment are on the way, thanks to a new system developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory for producing alpha-emitting medical radioisotopes intended to target and overpower diseased tissue while sparing the healthy tissue around it.

“The new system is based on a uranium-230/thorium-226 pairing, where the thorium-226 is supplied in a form suitable for medical applications,” said Michael Fassbender, the lead researcher at Los Alamos. “The thorium-226 emits multiple alpha particles as it decays, delivering a powerful blow to diseased cells. This is similar to actinium-225, another promising alpha therapy isotope. The DOE Isotope Program is committed to making multiple options, or a variety of radioisotopes available to accelerate the development of therapeutics that could be used to treat different cancers.”

Radioisotopes are a key weapon in the medical arsenal for treating cancer. Most treatments use beta-particle-emitting isotopes to destroy cancer cells. Alpha particles can do a better job. Not only do they carry much more destructive energy, but they also release this energy over a very short range, which allows for large radiation doses to be transported in microscopic volumes directly to the malignant cells. Thus, healthy tissue is less likely to be damaged. Alpha particle therapeutics are also effective against cancer that has metastasized and spread around the body.

Through a chemical process, the new Los Alamos generator allows repeated separation of thorium-226 from its parent, uranium-230. The generator will be available to a researcher through the National Isotope Development Center (NIDC), giving them a consistent supply of thorium-226 to use in investigating the next steps in creating the radiopharmaceuticals needed to treat patients.  

For more information: science.osti.gov/


Related Content

News | Breast Imaging

February 22, 2024 — The FAST-Forward randomized trial from the UK found that ultrahypofractionated whole breast ...

Time February 22, 2024
arrow
News | Radiation Oncology

February 22, 2024 — The National Institutes of Health has launched a clinical trials network to evaluate emerging ...

Time February 22, 2024
arrow
News | Radiation Oncology

February 14, 2024 — Accuray Incorporated announced that the team at Quebec’s Montérégie Integrated Cancer Center, part ...

Time February 14, 2024
arrow
News | Radiation Oncology

February 12, 2024 — Radformation, a global pioneer in radiation oncology software solutions, is pleased to announce its ...

Time February 12, 2024
arrow
News | Quality Assurance (QA)

February 12, 2024 — IBA, a world leader in particle accelerator technology and a world-leading provider of dosimetry and ...

Time February 12, 2024
arrow
News | Radiation Therapy

February 8, 2024 — RaySearch Laboratories AB announced that The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, a specialist cancer ...

Time February 08, 2024
arrow
Videos | RSNA

At RSNA23, Imaging Technology News (ITN) spoke with Bhvita Jani, principal analyst at Signify Research, about ...

Time February 07, 2024
arrow
News | Interventional Radiology

February 6, 2024 — RenovoRx, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel precision oncology ...

Time February 06, 2024
arrow
News | Treatment Planning

February 2, 2024 — RaySearch Laboratories announced that the number of radiotherapy centers that have chosen RayStation ...

Time February 02, 2024
arrow
Feature | Radiology Business | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane

It's a new year, and as another month comes to a close, ITN takes a look at the Top 10 most-read pieces of content from ...

Time February 01, 2024
arrow
Subscribe Now