DOE Isotope Program Highlights

News highlights from all participating national laboratories, university facilities, and other research institutions which feature work from the U.S. Department of Energy Isotope Program can be found here.

Illustration by Christopher Orosco, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Illustration of the structure of the radium compound characterized in this research. Single crystal X-ray diffraction provided detailed information on the bonding of radium in an organic molecule for the first time.

A First Look Inside Radium’s Solid-State Chemistry

Researchers used single crystal X-ray diffraction to learn about the structure and bonding of a highly radioactive radium compound.
Image courtesy of Bobba, K.N., et al., Evaluation of cerium/lanthanum-134 as a PET imaging theranostic pair for 225Ac alpha radiotherapeutics. Journal of Nuclear Medicine 64, 7 (2023). Radiopharmaceuticals based on cerium/lanthanum-134 have promise for prostate cancer imaging and therapy. At right, tumors show high tumor uptake of cerium-134. At left, a comparison of cerium-134 and actinium-225 shows a similar pattern of uptake in most tissues (note the tumor tissue on the leg).

Transforming Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment with Cerium/Lanthanum-134

Researchers advance the use of cerium/lanthanum-134 for medical scans in actinium-225 cancer therapy.
Image courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory Depiction of a titanium-44/scandium-44 generator. The generator consists of a hydroxamate-based resin undergoing scandium-44 elution with hydrochloric acid.

Scientists Identify an Alternative System for Producing the Medical Isotope Scandium-44

An easy-to-use system can increase the availability of PET imaging agents to more patients.
This image depicts a binding molecule delivering radium-223 to a cancer cell. Image courtesy of Adam Malin, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Capturing the Chemistry of Radium-223 for Cancer Treatment

Until now, there have been few efforts to get information on how radium binds with known chelators.
Image courtesy of Jonathan Engle, University of Wisconsin. Summary of the production process for radioisotopes of scandium using recyclable, enriched calcium.

Researchers Improve Production for Short-Lived Scandium Radioisotopes

Hard to produce in quantities and purities appropriate for human use, scandium radioisotopes have potential for imaging cancer.
The binding of At-211 with mono- and diketones with different bond strengths. Image courtesy of Jon Burns, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Tunable Bonds: A Step Towards Targeted At-211 Cancer Therapy

Scientists can tune the strength of astatine-211 bonds with chemicals called ketones, laying the groundwork for a new class of radiopharmaceuticals.
Image courtesy of Brown, M.A., Metal Oxide Sorbents for the Separation of Radium and Actinium, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 59, 20472-20477 (2020). [DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.0c04084] The separation of radium and actinium is a major component in the production, distribution, and purity of targeted alpha therapy isotopes. This image shows the separation profiles of radium (purple) and actinium (green) across a zirconia resin.

Scientists Develop Inorganic Resins for Generating and Purifying Radium and Actinium

Research advances the chemistry and improves the purity of isotopes for targeted alpha therapy used in the treatment of cancers.
Image courtesy of Gauthier Deblonde, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory This photograph is a rare example of a curium compound (isotopes Cm-248/246). This is a Cm(III)-polyoxometalate complex isolated and characterized using the newly proposed technique that required only 1-10 micrograms of the precious radioisotope.

New Strategy Can Harvest Chemical Information on Rare Isotopes with a Fraction of the Material

A newly proposed approach aids chemical studies of rare, toxic, radioactive, and precious isotopes by requiring 1,000 times less material.
Image courtesy of Jaimee Janiga, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Getting Purer Berkelium, Faster than Ever

This new method individually separates heavy metals — an actinide chemist’s dream.
Left: production rate as a function of proton energy of parent radioisotopes selenium-72 (Se-72) (1) & germanium-68 (Ge-68) (2). Right, a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) image of a patient with metastatic colon cancer, obtained using gallium-68 (Ga-68)

Fighting Cancer on Earth and in Space Using High-Energy Protons

Scientists on Earth use high-energy protons to create isotopes to detect and treat cancer. In space, however, these same high-energy protons can pose a risk to spacecraft and the health of the astronauts traveling in them.