Past Production at PNNL
- In 1960, work began at the RPL on isotope separations, including 14 million curies of strontium-90, cesium-137, curium-244, americium-241, and promethium-147 for betavoltaic nuclear batteries for cardiac pacemakers and the artificial heart.
- Also in 1960, in work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, plutonium-238 was recovered from special neptunium-237-irradiated targets.
- Yttrium-90 production began at PNNL in 1991. It was used as a treatment for various types of cancer, with a 1400 percent growth in annual sales from 1996 to 1998 and was privatized in 1999.
- PNNL made the first shipments of the actinium-225 and radium-223 isotopes for medical research to five U.S. customers in 1996.
- Researchers at PNNL have developed a number of patented methods for making highly-pure medical isotopes vital for cancer research, such as yttrium-90, actinium-225, radium-223, bismuth-212, lead-212, zirconium-89, and astatine-211.
Radiochemical Separation for Medical Applications
- Actinium-225 (225Ac): Used in targeted alpha therapy treatment for certain types of cancer
- Americium-241 (241Am): Produced for smoke detectors and neutron sources for well logging
- Astatine-211 (211At): Used in targeted alpha particle therapy for cancer treatment
- Bismuth-213 (213Bi)
- Bismuth-212 (212Bi): Used in clinical trials for leukemia and brain tumors
- Cesium-137 (137Cs): Produced by nuclear fission for use in medical devices and gauges
- Cesium-131 (131Cs): Produced seeds for cancer treatment; process was patented in 2000
- Curium-244 (244Cm): Processed to provide a target material for irradiation
- Gadolinium-153 (153Gd)
- Plutonium-238 (238Pu): Produced for batteries and heat sources
- Polonium-210 (210Po): Produced for military applications
- Promethium-147 (147Pm): Produced for heat source, light source, and heart pacemakers
- Radium-223 (223Ra): Used for cancer treatment
- Thorium-229 (229Th)
- Yttrium-90 (90Y): Used as a treatment for lymphomas and leukemias with a high rate of success
- Zirconium-89 (89Zr): Used as a tool for molecular imaging in cancer patients
Successful Medical isotope production and applications research
- Researchers developed a separation process to make brachytherapy cancer treatment seeds using the radioactive isotope cesium-131. Tiny and thin, the seeds are implanted in the tumor to quickly kill the cancer. In partnership with IsoRay Medical Inc., the cesium-131 process was patented in 2000 and received a Federal Laboratory Consortium award in 2006.
- Scientists created “radiogel” products that offer people with inoperable tumors a better chance for treatment. Radiogels allow the insoluble yttrium-90 to be injected to precise locations in the body, where it works directly on the cancer with minimal radiation exposure to healthy organs and tissues. Once the yttrium-90 decays, the radiogels dissolve and disappear. This process was licensed to Advanced Medical Isotope Corp. in 2011 and received a Federal Laboratory Consortium award in 2012.
- Researchers provided radiation dosimetry support to radioimmunotherapy studies in laboratory animals and internal dosimetry treatment planning for cancer patients treated with radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies.