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Targeted Therapy Delivers Radiation Directly To Cells in Hard-To-Treat Cancers

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 08 Jan 2024
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Image: Researchers will study targeted radiation for treatment-resistant cancers (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: Researchers will study targeted radiation for treatment-resistant cancers (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Alpha-particle emitter radiopharmaceutical therapy (alpha-emitter RPT) is an emerging cancer treatment that has shown considerable success in targeting widespread, resistant cancer cells by directly delivering potent radiation. Administered intravenously, this therapy involves attaching radioactive atoms, which emit alpha-particles or helium nuclei, to molecules specifically designed to bind with cancer cells scattered throughout the body. This targeted approach allows the alpha-particles to inflict substantial DNA damage to the cancer cells, effectively destroying them, while also minimizing harm to the surrounding healthy tissues and mitigating some of the severe side effects typically associated with radiation and chemotherapy.

In recent years, the FDA has approved several agents utilizing this method to deliver radiation therapies aimed at treatment-resistant cancers, sparking an increased demand to refine these treatments and explore new specific radiation therapies. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine (Baltimore, MD, USA) who have previously established the efficacy of this therapy in managing various metastatic cancers that are unresponsive to standard treatments, are now set to further enhance the alpha-emitter RPT with a USD 15 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. Their focus will be on fine-tuning the therapy and customizing its use, including developing sophisticated imaging techniques and understanding the radiation's distribution in tissues to personalize treatment for each patient. The research team plans to delve into the mathematical and physics-based aspects of alpha-emitter RPT to address these challenges effectively.

“The study of these types of radiation treatments is a very active field that is also very niche,” said George Sgouros, Ph.D., director of the radiological physics division and professor of radiology and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “It is a unique area of study because a multidisciplinary team is needed to fully optimize such therapies, everything from physics, radiochemistry, biology and pharmacokinetics impacts this treatment approach.”

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