Targeted, internal radiotherapy
Treating cancer with medical radioisotopes
Fighting cancer better
Targeted internal radiotherapy: this is the future of nuclear cancer treatment. These are drugs that deliver a radioactive isotope to the organ via a carrier molecule. There, they can attack the cancer cell very locally, causing the tumour to shrink or disappear. What about the healthy tissue around it?? That remains intact. Consequently, the side effects of cancer treatment are a lot smaller.
Targeted radiotherapy is already being used on patients, but development is still also in full swing. To accelerate innovation in this field, SCK CEN has set up its own cancer treatment research program.
💡 Want to know more? Read more here.
How does this targeted treatment work?
The radioactive drug is injected and spreads through the body via the bloodstream. The carrier molecules transport the radioisotopes to the cancer cells in the tumour and the ones in the metastases. Cancer cells in prostate cancer and its metastases, for example, have specific proteins on their cell surfaces. These proteins occur more often there than on the cell surfaces of healthy cells. They act as identification markers to which the carrier molecules can bond. The alpha or beta radiation emitted by the radioisotopes deposits a very large amount of energy locally, causing great damage to any nearby cancer cells. The radiation destroys the cancer cells, while sparing the healthy ones.
Did you know...
medical radioisotopes have long been used for diagnoses?
Almost 7 million patients undergo a medical examination every year thanks to the Belgian production of molybdenum-99, one of the most-used radioisotopes in nuclear medicine for making diagnoses. SCK CEN contributes with its knowledge, experience and the BR2 to earlier diagnoses of different diseases. Thanks to BR2, Belgium is among the handful of world players in the production and distribution of medical radioisotopes for diagnosis.