Today's cancer therapies are non-selective, in that they all cause damage to healthy tissue to some extent. The most commonly prescribed treatments are also the worst offenders. In targeted alpha-particle therapy (TAT), an alpha-emitting isotope is chemically conjugated to an antibody that seeks out and binds with a particular type of cancer cell. Alpha particles have a limited range of 2 to 3 cell diameters. When the radioisotope decays, the alpha particle stops in the tissue and in doing so its kinetic energy destroys the cells. The result is a highly targeted therapy promising minimal side effects.
Extremely limited quantities of the isotopes actinium-225 and bismuth-213 are available for therapeutic use. The radioisotope-antibody conjugate is injected into the site of the cancer. Few such injections are administered over several months. In the few patients who have been able to receive TAT, the results are nothing short of biblical! These radioisotopes are inevitably short lived and require regular harvesting. In the absence of such a consistent supply, clinical trials have been intermittent.
The U-233 inventory at ORNL represents a considerable resource for TAT radioisotopes. In the 50 years or so that the inventory has resided at ORNL, chemically unaltered, meaningful quantities of daughter isotopes have accrued that can now be chemically extracted. As a singular and substantial source of such isotopes, U-233 warrants preservation and should be cherished as a national treasure.
REVOLUTIONARY CANCER THERAPY
The potential of U-233 to consistently supply these unique radioisotopes for the foreseeable future is one that cannot be overlooked when discussing its value proposition. It promises a generational leap in patient outcomes and survivability, while expanding treatment availability and reducing costs.