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Treatment capitalizes on unique qualities of radioisotope to prolong lives of brain tumor patients
Date:1/30/2008

ble to travel to a depth of only two to three cells into the affected area, which is enough to deliver the fatal payload. Compared to other alpha emitters, astatine-211 has a relatively short lifespan (approximately 7 hours), which means that the radioactivity falls off rapidly and patients experience few, if any, side effects.

In this first study evaluating astatine-211 as a targeted radiotherapeutic agent in cancer patients, researchers were expecting to determine only dose-limiting toxicity (the amount of isotope necessary to destroy the cancer without killing healthy tissue). In addition, they discovered that many patients experienced an extended survival rate, ranging from an average of 52 weeks to 3 years (compared to 26 weeks for most recurrent brain tumor patients).

Noting that brain tumors recur with an extremely poor prognosis, Zalutsky said, There is an incredible need for brain cancer treatments, and this finding gives us a potentially valuable weapon in this fight.

Researchers say future studies may use a radiotherapeutic cocktail of both alpha and beta particles attached to the same monoclonal antibody to deliver a treatment with a wider range for larger tumors along with a more focused radiation for smaller tumors or residual cancer cells. Additional studies propose using astatine-211 on other compartmentalized cancers, such as ovarian and breast cancers that have spread to the central nervous system. All of these studies, however, will be delayed unless adequate quantities of astatine-211 can be produced.

Right now in the United States, there are only three places where the isotope is produced, said Zalutsky, who contributed to the 2007 National Academy of Sciences report that encouraged Congress to increase funding for nuclear medicine research and treatment, including the production of promising isotopes such as astatine-211. Patients eligible for such studies will be put on hold until our nation invests signific
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Contact: Kathryn Wiley
kwiley@snm.org
703-326-1184
Society of Nuclear Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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