Tri-Lab effort makes strides toward increasing supply of Ac-225

Ashleigh Kimberlin and Mikayla Molnar achieve success with a gas-trapping apparatus for Ac-225 production. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

In experiment after experiment, the synthetic radioisotope actinium-225 has shown promise for targeting and attacking certain types of cancer cells.

Although researchers have studied this radioisotope’s cancer-fighting potential for more than two decades, there’s not a Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment using Ac-225 — yet. But with more Ac-225 available from the DOE Isotope program and multiple clinical trials now underway, it’s likely that both an approved treatment and increased demand for the radioisotope are in the near future — and the U.S. Department of Energy wants to be ready.

Since 2014, the DOE Isotope Program has sponsored the Tri-Lab research effort to provide accelerator-produced Ac-225 for radiotherapy. Thorium-232 targets are irradiated in proton accelerators at Los Alamos and Brookhaven national laboratories.

The purpose for all this collaboration is to produce large batches more quickly and more frequently. And in June, from the Tri-Lab effort, ORNL processed the largest batch of Ac-225 ever put into inventory.

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