RICHLAND, Wash. -- A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, especially if the tumor is inoperable, but some breakthrough research at Battelle may soon give those patients a fair shot at fighting the disease. Dr. Darrell Fisher, the lead isotope researcher has been working on a way to change that for the last decade.
A key challenge in radiation therapy for cancer is achieving uniform, localized delivery of high doses without exceeding normal tissue tolerance. Dr. Fisher and his team are developing an injectable "radiogel" that provides controlled, high-dose delivery of yttrium-90 (90Y) to solid tumors that cannot be removed surgically.
"The successful treatment of pancreatic cancer is less than one percent. If you give the physician a chance to place an intense radioactive source within the pancreas and the tissue to be treated, you give that patient a new opportunity for curing that cancer that has not existed previously," says Dr. Fisher.
The product consists of a suspension of 90Y-phosphate microspheres in a sterile solution, which is liquid at the time of injection but solidifies at body temperature to capture the microspheres at the site of injection and limit radiation exposure to surrounding normal tissues.
" As it warms up, it transforms from a liquid to a solid. When it turns into a gel, it traps the particles, so they stay within the tumor," says Dr. Barbara Tarasevich, the materials scientist working on the gel.
The radiogel technology could be used to treat a variety of radiation-resistant solid cancers, including those of the liver, brain, head and neck, kidney, and pancreas.
It has so much potential, as it showed in tests with mice and dogs, the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, is giving Battelle and the University of Washington Medical Center a grant for $148,800 to do more research. Fisher says they plan to treat New Zealand White Rabbits with liver tumors and he plans on training other cancer treating physicians on the use of the medicine this fall.
In the proposed studies, clinicians from the University of Washington Department of Radiology will assess the technology's biodistribution, radiation dose, homogeneity, activity in normal tissues, and ease of use in a preclinical tumor model.
The commercialization partner, Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation (AMIC) of Kennewick, WA, has an exclusive option from Battelle to the associated intellectual property. If the proposed work is successful, AMIC intends to raise capital for additional testing, regulatory approval, seed manufacturing, and marketing.
Even more interesting, the radioisotope for the application-- Yttrium 90 came from our own backyard, developed from Hanford Nuclear Waste.