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April 18th 2018

UW faculty receives U.S. DoE award to improve the availability of Astatine-211 labeled radiopharmaceuticals for radiation therapy

Congratulations to Dr. Scott Wilbur for receiving a major research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to improve cancer treatment. The award of $450,000 will help make the radionuclide Astatine-211(211At), produced by Dr. Wilbur’s team at UW, more accessible to cancer patients.

Astatine-211 is a radionuclide that can be attached to a cancer targeting agent to make a radiopharmaceutical for use in radiation therapy.  The properties of Astatine-211 make it particularly suited for killing cancer cells, while sparing normal cells and tissues.  Astatine-211 has been linked with cancer-targeting antibodies to treat patients with leukemia and lymphoma in the first clinical trial at the Fred Hutch and UW (NCT03128034).

A portion of the grant funding is being used to develop an automated system for isolation of the Astatine-211 (from irradiated bismuth targets), which can significantly shorten the production time.  Dr. Wilbur’s automation effort is a collaboration of his team at the University of Washington, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (P.I.: Matthew O’Hara), and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (P.I.: Dr. Stosh Kozimor).  Important progress has been made in automation of the Astatine-211 isolation process, but additional studies are needed to simplify the process and develop a fully functional automated Astatine-211 isolation system.  Another aspect of the studies is to develop new chemistry for labeling cancer-targeting agents with Astatine-211.  That effort is a collaboration with Dr. Silvia Jurisson (P.I.) at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

The Astatine-211 research will be another great contribution to the University of Washington/Fred Hutch, and many other research collaborators and clinical partners in the nation’s important work in improving cancer care and radiation therapy worldwide. Dr. Scott Wilbur is a Professor and researcher in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Washington.  His areas of research focus are the development of new reagents for molecular radiotherapy, production of Astatine-211, and production of high specific activity radionuclides by cyclotron irradiations, to improve cancer care. To learn more about Dr. Wilbur’s clinical work and research publications, please click here.