Custom-made cancer cell attacks

February 16, 2007

Imagine a cancer treatment tailored to the cells in a patient’s body, each person receiving a unique treatment program.

This is what Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council grantee Thomas Ruth and his colleagues hope to accomplish within the next decade. Using the TRIUMF particle accelerator based in Vancouver, British Columbia, they are taking vast amounts of radioactive material and separating the particular atoms they need for therapy.

Ruth says radioisotope therapy is the next big frontier in health care because different types of chemicals can be selected for tailor-made treatment programs. This is because radioactive chemicals such as radioiodine decay in a predictable way and emit radiation while that is happening.

Bearing that principle in mind, researchers can make custom types of radioactive chemicals – or radioisotopes – that will attack cancer cells in a more efficient way than current cancer treatments.

Ruth will discuss his results at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in San Francisco, which runs from Feb. 15 to 19.

“Individual therapy means patients will require fewer radiation doses and treatment sessions,” says Ruth, who is director of the TRIUMF PET (Positron Emission Tomography) program at the University of British Columbia. “And the patient isn’t the only one who benefits. Doctors do not have to spend as much time treating patients, and hospitals will spend less money helping those patients get better.”

The challenge for Ruth and the rest of his team, who use the element rhenium for treatments, is separating the right isotope of rhenium with the accelerator. They buy the most common type from MDS Nordion in Kanata, Ontario, or the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center. At present they are investigating methods to ionize, or break apart, the rhenium. In the next phase of the project, they will use magnets to separate the specific type of rhenium they need – Rhenium 186.

“Right now, getting Rhenium 186 is a difficult and expensive process,” says Ruth. “The key is to make this practical for the people who need to use it. In the next few months, we will partner with local hospitals and begin pre-clinical trials – and, in the meantime, improve on the way we extract it to make it easy to purchase and cheap to use.”

Source: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Explore further: Radioactive bacteria targets metastatic pancreatic cancer

Related Stories

Radioactive bacteria targets metastatic pancreatic cancer

April 22, 2013
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have developed a therapy for pancreatic cancer that uses Listeria bacteria to selectively infect tumor cells and deliver radioisotopes into them. The ...

Queen's pioneers prostate cancer breakthrough

September 19, 2011
Scientists at Queen's University have pioneered a new combination treatment for prostate cancer. The treatment, which has been successful in phase one of trials, will now be tested for efficacy in a second phase.

Recycling cancer-fighting tools: Researchers working to produce vital radioisotopes at a cheaper cost

September 26, 2016
According to the World Nuclear Association, more than 10,000 hospitals worldwide use radioisotopes in medicine. Molybdenum-99, the parent isotope of technetium-99m, is the most widely used radioisotope for the diagnosis and ...

Recommended for you

Lab-grown 'mini tumours' could personalise cancer treatment

February 23, 2018
Testing cancer drugs on miniature replicas of a patient's tumour could help doctors tailor treatment, according to new research.

Study tracks evolutionary transition to destructive cancer

February 23, 2018
Evolution describes how all living forms cope with challenges in their environment, as they struggle to persevere against formidable odds. Mutation and selective pressure—cornerstones of Darwin's theory—are the means ...

Putting black skin cancer to sleep—for good

February 22, 2018
An international research team has succeeded in stopping the growth of malignant melanoma by reactivating a protective mechanism that prevents tumor cells from dividing. The team used chemical agents to block the enzymes ...

Cancer risk associated with key epigenetic changes occurring through normal aging process

February 22, 2018
Some scientists have hypothesized that tumor-promoting changes in cells during cancer development—particularly an epigenetic change involving DNA methylation—arise from rogue cells escaping a natural cell deterioration ...

NEJM reports positive results for larotrectinib against TRK-fusion cancer

February 22, 2018
In 2013, the labs of University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator Robert C. Doebele, MD, PhD, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigator Pasi A. Jänne, MD, PhD reported in Nature Medicine the presence of TRK gene ...

New therapeutic gel shows promise against cancerous tumors

February 21, 2018
Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine and NC State have created an injectable gel-like scaffold that can hold combination chemo-immunotherapeutic drugs and deliver them locally to tumors in a sequential manner. The results ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.