Released Sunday, March 29 1998 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society

Contact: Kara Villamil or Mona S. Rowe





DALLAS - Through new research on radioactive elements ranging from gold to platinum to tin, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have given doctors and patients better ways to find and treat cancers of all types.

In a series of talks at the American Chemical Society national meeting here, Brookhaven researchers described their recent advances in developing short-lived radioactive elements, or radionuclides, for a variety of medical uses. Among the findings presented:

Easing the Pain of Bone Cancer

Excruciating pain from the spread of cancer to bone strikes more than 200,000 Americans each year, including 60 to 80 percent of prostate and breast cancer patients. Extremely painful lesions are often spread throughout the bony tissue. Conventional treatments include strong sedatives, which decrease a patient's quality of life, hormonal treatments, and radiation therapy that is effective only for "spot" treatments and requires repeated doses.

But as BNL's Suresh Srivastava will describe on March 30, he and his colleagues from BNL and the State University of New York at Stony Brook have developed and tested a new agent - tin-117m DTPA - that alleviates patients' pain while giving virtually no side effects, including the bone marrow damage seen with other nuclear medicine therapies.

In a Phase I/II clinical trial, the tin compound completely or substantially relieved the pain of 75 percent of the trial's 47 participants, with relief lasting up to a year. Toxicity to bone marrow was substantially less than comparable therapies. Two multi-center, double-blind, randomized clinical trials in 100 prostate patients and 75 patients with osteolytic bone metastases (including breast and lung) are currently in progress. This therapy may also hold promise for slowing the progress of metastatic cancer and prolonging patient survival time, and even for treating primary bone cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

An historical survey of other nuclear medicine approaches to treating bone cancer will also be given on March 30 by Harold Atkins of SUNY Stony Brook.

The Right Element for the Job

Like a carpenter chooses the right tool for his task, the physicians must also choose the right radionuclide for a nuclear medicine procedure that will help find and/or treat his or her patient's cancer.

On March 29, BNL researcher Leonard Mausner will present the newest components of the experimental toolkit, made through a team effort in the radionuclide and radiopharmaceutical research program in the BNL Medical and Biology Departments. He will also describe each isotope's individual uses.

For example, a short-lived form of radioactive gold can be attached to a cancer-specific antibody, to help locate and treat tumors in the body. And a form of fleetingly radioactive platinum shows promise in treating tiny breakaway cancers throughout the body of a patient being treated for a larger, central cancer.


Brookhaven's research in the field of nuclear medicine stretches back to the 1950s, when researchers developed a form of the rare element technetium that is now used to diagnose disease in over 12 million Americans each year.

BNL scientists also developed the thallium isotope that is given to hundreds of thousands of heart-disease patients annually as part of "stress tests" to gauge heart function. A BNL-developed red blood cell labeling kit finds use in over 200,000 patients annually for the diagnosis of cardiovascular disorders.

Brookhaven National Laboratory carries out basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences and in selected energy technologies. Brookhaven is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a nonprofit research management organization, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.


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