LDRD Seminar Series: ‘The Production of Medical Isotopes Using an Electron LINAC: Argonne’s Nuclear Scientists and Engineers in the Fight Against Cancer’
Chemist M. Alex Brown (NE) will discuss his Laboratory-Directed Research and Development (LDRD) sponsored work at the LDRD Seminar Series presentation Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. “The Production of Medical Isotopes Using an Electron LINAC: Argonne’s Nuclear Scientists and Engineers in the Fight Against Cancer” begins at 12:30 p.m. in the Building 203 Auditorium. All are welcome to attend.
The 50 MeV / 25 kW electron linear accelerator (LINAC) in the low energy accelerator facility (LEAF) is capable of producing large quantities of unique isotopes and was evaluated for the production and purification of novel tumor-destroying radionuclides – scandium-47 and actinium-225 – in the field of targeted radiotherapy.
Radioisotopes have found applications in the detection and treatment of cancers, infectious diseases and other medical conditions. The inherent difficulty of detecting and treating these diseases requires that an arsenal of nuclides with varying properties (i.e. emission and chemical) be available for personalized medicine. Diagnostic applications require the use of gamma emissions and therapy relies on the ionizing effect of alpha, beta and Auger emissions. Research is accelerating around the world to improve the existing production methodologies as well as to develop novel radionuclides for new medical applications. Electron LINACs are unique sources of radioisotopes. Even though the basic technology has been around for decades, only recently have electron LINACs become capable of producing photons with sufficient energy and flux for radioisotope production. Housed in Argonne National Laboratory’s Building 211 is a newly upgraded 50 MeV/30-kW electron linear accelerator facility (LEAF) that can produce a wide range of radioisotopes. There is no other comparable facility to develop isotopes via photonuclear production within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
There are two vitally important medical radioisotopes that Argonne is capable of producing with its LINAC, which are within the scope of this work: Scandium-47 and Actinium-225. Scandium-47 (produced via Ti-48) has a half-life and emissions that make it very attractive as a theranostic agent which can simultaneously apply tumor dose with real-time tracking in the body. Actinium-225 is an alpha-emitter that has been identified as a very high-priority medical isotope by the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC) report and National Isotope Development Center (NIDC) of ONP under the DOE Office of Science. Both isotopes can be produced in useful quantities at the LEAF. The production of these isotopes still requires technological developments that encompass the expertise of Argonne’s Nuclear Engineering and Physics divisions.
M. Alex Brown is a radiochemist in the Nuclear Engineering Division with research experience in f-element chemistry, XAFS and numerous spectroscopic methods, nuclear fuel reprocessing, radiation detection, aqueous chemical separations, as well as medical isotope production and purification. With his collaborators, they are exploring the electron LINAC as a unique production facility of high-priority medical isotopes capable of destroying a number of cancers and infectious diseases.
Brown earned his B.S. in chemical engineering, his M.S. in radiation physics, and his Ph.D. in radiochemistry where he was a DOE-Nuclear Energy University Partnership Fellow studying actinide chemistry in nuclear fuel reprocessing.