Moscow State University develops new thyroid gland cancer drug
16 Oct '13
A research team at Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) is developing an innovation y-tracer called “Astat-211” to fight thyroid gland cancer, announced MSU’s Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, the prime driver of the new project.
The research effort is being pushed by a scientific team led by Prof. O. A. Yuminov.
The new y-tracer is based on the 211-At radioactive nuclide, believed to be a powerful anti-tumor weapon, and is expected to be more efficient in cancer therapies while substantially decreasing radiation doses for patients and medical staff, compared to the conventional y-tracers currently using the 131-I nuclide. Unlike the future y-tracer, the 131-I is a source of β- and γ-rays that possess a considerable penetrating power—up to a few centimeters in biological tissues. This results in exposing patients to a relatively large dose of healthy organ irradiation, while the destruction of cancerous cells is far from efficient.
The 211-At radioactive nuclide emits high-energy α-particles that only penetrate about 50-70 microns of biological tissues, just a few diameters of a cell. So, if the drug is delivered close to an organ bearing a malignant tumor, it’s cancerous cells that will predominantly be destroyed.
In preliminary experiments the Skobeltsyn Institute team found out that being a chemical analog of the 131-I, the 211-At is capable of selectively accumulating in the thyroid gland and participating in this organ’s metabolic processes.
The 211-At’s above properties are expected to pave the way for its broad use in thyroid gland cancer therapies.
The 211-At is an artificial isotope unavailable in nature. At the moment, the MSU Skobeltsyn Institute researchers are conducting preclinical trials of the new Astat-211 y-tracer.