Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Fight against cancer: EU research develops cancer-killing isotopes


Highly promising results from clinical trials indicate that alpha-emitting radioisotopes can kill cancer cells. The Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum presented this innovative therapy during a recent workshop in Heidelberg. Alpha-immunotherapy should develop into an effective treatment over the next few years and provide new methods of healing for patients. How does the cancer-killing mechanism work? A cancer-cell selective vehicle, (e.g. a monocolonal antibody or a peptide) is connected to a powerful radioactive isotope. As it radioactively decays, the isotope emits particles that can either directly or indirectly kill any cancer cells it encounters. Said EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin: "More research is needed, but experts tell us that the results from pre-clinical and first clinical trials are promising. Search-and-destroy isotopes should be helpful in fighting a great number of cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma (haematological malignancies), microscopic, intraperitoneally growing cancers (e.g. ovarian, stomach), glioblastoma and post-operative treatment of glioma, melanomas, colon tumours, myeloma and palliative treatment of malignant ascites. Multi-disciplinary co-operations between Europe’s best teams are needed to advance this innovative approach. Cancer is a key priority in the EU’s next research programme, to be launched later this year."

One of the key targets of the European Commission’s Sixth Framework programme for Research and Development (2003-2006) is "Combating cancer". Altogether just over €1 billion is earmarked for combating major diseases, of which at least € 400 million should go to cancer research. The objective is to develop better strategies, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment, for fighting cancer. EU research will concentrate on translating the new knowledge being created by genomics and other fields of basic research into applications that improve clinical practice and public health.

As far as research on cancer-killing isotopes is concerned, currently only two organisations world-wide are able to produce such isotopes: the European Commission’s Institute for Transuranium Elements (a branch of the JRC) and the Oak Ridge National Laboratories in the US.

Both the recent results obtained in clinical studies, using bismuth-213 to combat acute myeloid leukaemia, and the first evaluations of the direct use of actinium-225, point to the right direction. Whereas the first isotope emits only one alpha particle during its decay, the latter has a decay chain with 4 alpha particles and could be much more efficient, at least when its full potential can be exploited. At the highest dosage level used (up to100 mCi bismuth-213), no acute toxicity was observed. This breakthrough opens the way for accepting the analyses of other alpha-emitters in a clinical setting also.

The Commission has supported pioneering work at the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) and the Kantonspital of Basel, where the first patients were treated for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and glioblastoma respectively. To date, 37 patients in the US have been treated with bismuth 213 or astatine 211 and 11 patients in Europe.

Other very promising studies on treating melanoma using local antibody conjugated bismuth-213 injection foster scientific understanding and several hypotheses on the operating mechanisms of alpha-damage can therefore be validated. As the use of highly radiotoxic alpha-emitting isotopes is not currently common practice in hospitals, strict requirements need to be respected to allow the large-scale application of this technology.

State-of-the art genomics and proteomics are expected to provide a sound understanding of the governing processes in the application of alpha-emitters and other radioactive isotopes. Such details will help not only in combating cancer, but also in understanding how low-level radiation exposure effects the human genetic makeup. The hope is to produce a patient-tailored drug and/or therapy design in the future, through studying the specific features of particular diseases and their genetic expression.

Fabio Fabbi | Europäische Kommission
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>