DOE News
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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2018-05-31 08:45:52
    • Article ID: 695358

    ORNL ramps up production of key radioisotope for cancer-fighting drug

    • Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy

      Radiochemical technicians David Denton and Karen Murphy use hot cell manipulators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory during the production of actinium-227.

    The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is now producing actinium-227 (Ac-227) to meet projected demand for a highly effective cancer drug through a 10-year contract between the U.S. DOE Isotope Program and Bayer.

    Xofigo (radium Ra-223 dichloride) is used to treat prostate cancer that no longer responds to hormonal or surgical treatment that lowers testosterone. Xofigo is for men whose prostate cancer has spread to the bone with symptoms but not to other parts of the body. 

    Ra-223, the active ingredient in Xofigo, is currently derived from global supplies of existing Ac-227. After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xofigo in 2013, it was clear an alternative source of Ac-227 was needed. The drug is now approved in 52 countries worldwide. 

    “As part of our longstanding commitment to improving the lives of those living with cancer, we are honored to be working with the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s radioisotope production experts and their unique facilities to ensure a sustainable supply of this important drug, Xofigo, into the foreseeable future,” said Carsten Brunn, president of Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Americas Region.

    With decades of experience in medical isotope research and production, ORNL was one of the few locations worldwide with the personnel and facilities necessary to develop and execute a new Ac-227 production method. 

    “We are excited to enter this partnership with Bayer to ensure prostate cancer patients have a reliable supply of this drug,” said Jehanne Gillo, Director of the Facilities and Project Management Division for the DOE Office of Science for Nuclear Physics. “This is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to address a vital need that affects tens of thousands of lives each year.”

    Gillo also manages the DOE Isotope Program, which produces high priority isotopes in short supply for the nation. The program sponsored the Ac-227 production development effort and spearheaded negotiations with Bayer for sustained production.

    The new production process for Ac-227 begins with recovering radium-226 (Ra-226) from legacy medical devices secured by the DOE Isotope Program and diverted from a radioactive waste landfill. After recovery and extensive purification, the Ra-226 feedstock—which is fabricated into small targets—is then irradiated in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), a DOE Office of Science User Facility at ORNL.

    Once irradiation is complete, technologists use specialized nuclear facilities to dissolve the highly radioactive targets and chemically separate and purify the Ac-227 created during irradiation. The Ac-227 is then packaged in a cask and shipped to Bayer in Norway. Bayer’s team periodically extracts the Ra-223 that grows into the ORNL-supplied Ac-227, via radioactive decay process, and ships it around the world for immediate use as a cancer therapy. 

    ORNL’s team had two years to prepare facilities; undergo an extensive readiness review process; design, fabricate and install remotely operated equipment for the chemical separation and purification process; design targets for use in HFIR; develop the necessary processing chemistry; and demonstrate that the final product would meet Bayer’s specifications and regulatory standards. 

    “Bayer made it clear that the company needed to expand its current supply of Ac-227 to meet the increasing demand for Xofigo,” said Saed Mirzadeh, principal investigator for the project and an ORNL Corporate Fellow. “Development and demonstration of our new production capability was a very rigorous process to ensure nuclear safety and product quality. Everyone worked very hard to ensure that our deadlines were met safely. We all felt that it was an honor to work on a project that will make a difference in the lives of so many people.”

    UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://science.energy.gov/.

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    Do Alpha Particle Condensates Exist in Oxygen Nuclei?

    Do Alpha Particle Condensates Exist in Oxygen Nuclei?

    Yes. Such condensates, analogous to those in carbon-12, in heavier nuclei could change how we describe certain elements.

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    Not All Ions in Tokamaks Go with the Flow

    Spectroscopic measurements reveal that main ions flow much faster than impurities at the edge of fusion-relevant plasmas.

    Researchers watch molecules in a light-triggered catalyst ring 'like an ensemble of bells'

    Researchers watch molecules in a light-triggered catalyst ring 'like an ensemble of bells'

    An international team has used an X-ray laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to get an incredibly detailed look at what happens to the structure of a model photocatalyst when it absorbs light.

    Measuring the Impossible: X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy of Hydrogen and Helium

    Measuring the Impossible: X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy of Hydrogen and Helium

    The two most abundant elements in the universe, hydrogen and helium, were previously thought to be impossible to measure by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

    New Model Sheds Light on Key Physics of Magnetic Islands that Can Halt Fusion Reactions

    New Model Sheds Light on Key Physics of Magnetic Islands that Can Halt Fusion Reactions

    Surprisingly, a magnetic island does not necessarily perturb the plasma current in a dangerous way and destroy fusion performance.

    Correlated Nucleons May Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

    Correlated Nucleons May Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

    A careful re-analysis of data taken at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has revealed a possible link between correlated protons and neutrons in the nucleus and a 35-year-old mystery. The data have led to the extraction of a universal function that describes the EMC Effect, the once-shocking discovery that quarks inside nuclei have lower average momenta than predicted, and supports an explanation for the effect. The study has been published in the journal Nature.

    Early "Fossils" Formed by Tectonics, not Life

    Early "Fossils" Formed by Tectonics, not Life

    The 3.7-billion-year-old structures were considered the first evidence for life on the planet; new evidence suggests differently.

    High-Energy X-Ray Bursts from Low-Energy Plasma

    High-Energy X-Ray Bursts from Low-Energy Plasma

    Scientists discover why solar flares produce X-rays; a few electrons avoid collisions and accelerate to produce a microsecond burst.

    Taking Diamond Qubits for a Spin

    Taking Diamond Qubits for a Spin

    Scientists use implanted silicon ions and electricity to increase the spin time of quantum bits, moving closer to the tech needed for quantum networks.

    Story Tips From the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, February 18, 2019

    Story Tips From the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, February 18, 2019

    ORNL neutrons investigate novel carbon capture crystals; gleaning valuable Twitter data to quickly map power outages; ORNL's lightweight, heat-shielding graphite foam test yields positive results in fusion reactors; open source software scales up analysis of motor designs to run on supercomputers


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    DOE launches its first lithium-ion battery recycling R&D center: ReCell

    DOE launches its first lithium-ion battery recycling R&D center: ReCell

    The launch of the Energy Department's first lithium-ion battery recycling center, called the ReCell Center, will help the United States grow a globally competitive recycling industry and reduce our reliance on foreign sources of battery materials.

    James Wishart Awarded Maria Skłodowska-Curie Medal

    James Wishart Awarded Maria Skłodowska-Curie Medal

    James Wishart, a chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been awarded the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Medal by the Polish Radiation Research Society (PRRS). The award recognizes his distinguished achievements in the field of radiation chemistry and his long-lasting and productive interactions with Polish scientists.

    Lynbrook High wins 2019 SLAC Regional Science Bowl competition

    Lynbrook High wins 2019 SLAC Regional Science Bowl competition

    Twenty-eight teams from 17 Bay Area high schools faced off Feb. 9 in the SLAC Regional DOE Science Bowl, a series of fast-paced question-and-answer matches that test knowledge in biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space sciences, energy and math. The competition is hosted annually by the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    UNLV Among 11 Teams Worldwide To Compete in 2020 Solar Decathlon

    UNLV Among 11 Teams Worldwide To Compete in 2020 Solar Decathlon

    Students to build sustainable home of healing for military veterans for U.S. Department of Energy contest; UNLV competed in 2013 and 2017.

    Three Brookhaven Scientists Named Highly Cited Researchers

    Three Brookhaven Scientists Named Highly Cited Researchers

    Three scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have been named to the 2018 Highly Cited Researchers List, which recognizes influential researchers whose work ranks in the top one percent of the world's most-cited scientific papers. Brookhaven's Radoslav Adzic, Mark Hybertsen, and Xiao-Qing Yang are among only 4,000 researchers from around the world whom achieved the distinction in 2018.

    New tools in transportation

    New tools in transportation

    A new version of the AFLEET Tool from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory calculates and compares the costs and environmental benefits of a broad range of alternative fuel technologies. Covering 18 fuel/vehicle technologies, AFLEET Online offers an easy-to-use web-based platform.

    Remote-Control Plasma Physics Experiment is Named One of Top Webcams of 2018

    Remote-Control Plasma Physics Experiment is Named One of Top Webcams of 2018

    EarthCam names remote-control experiment at PPPL one of 25 most interesting Webcams of 2018.

    Jefferson Lab Scientist Awarded Distinguished Lectureship

    Jefferson Lab Scientist Awarded Distinguished Lectureship

    Cynthia Keppel, leader of Jefferson Lab's Halls A&C, has been honored with the APS 2019 Distinguished Lectureship Award on the Applications of Physics.

    Journal Special Issues Honor Chemists Radoslav Adzic and Jan Hrbek

    Journal Special Issues Honor Chemists Radoslav Adzic and Jan Hrbek

    The Journal of the Electrochemical Society and Surface Science recognized the contributions of Brookhaven Lab chemists Radoslav Adzic and Jan Hrbek to electrocatalysis and catalysis.

    Argonne scientist elected as SAE Fellow

    Argonne scientist elected as SAE Fellow

    Scientist Michael Wang from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory was recently inducted as a Fellow of the professional engineering organization SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). The organization reserves this prestigious grade of membership for thosewho have made significant contributions to mobility technology and have demonstrated leadership in their field.


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    Do Alpha Particle Condensates Exist in Oxygen Nuclei?

    Do Alpha Particle Condensates Exist in Oxygen Nuclei?

    Yes. Such condensates, analogous to those in carbon-12, in heavier nuclei could change how we describe certain elements.

    Not All Ions in Tokamaks Go with the Flow

    Not All Ions in Tokamaks Go with the Flow

    Spectroscopic measurements reveal that main ions flow much faster than impurities at the edge of fusion-relevant plasmas.

    Measuring the Impossible: X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy of Hydrogen and Helium

    Measuring the Impossible: X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy of Hydrogen and Helium

    The two most abundant elements in the universe, hydrogen and helium, were previously thought to be impossible to measure by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

    New Model Sheds Light on Key Physics of Magnetic Islands that Can Halt Fusion Reactions

    New Model Sheds Light on Key Physics of Magnetic Islands that Can Halt Fusion Reactions

    Surprisingly, a magnetic island does not necessarily perturb the plasma current in a dangerous way and destroy fusion performance.

    Early "Fossils" Formed by Tectonics, not Life

    Early "Fossils" Formed by Tectonics, not Life

    The 3.7-billion-year-old structures were considered the first evidence for life on the planet; new evidence suggests differently.

    High-Energy X-Ray Bursts from Low-Energy Plasma

    High-Energy X-Ray Bursts from Low-Energy Plasma

    Scientists discover why solar flares produce X-rays; a few electrons avoid collisions and accelerate to produce a microsecond burst.

    Taking Diamond Qubits for a Spin

    Taking Diamond Qubits for a Spin

    Scientists use implanted silicon ions and electricity to increase the spin time of quantum bits, moving closer to the tech needed for quantum networks.

    Newly Discovered Design Rules Lead to Better Fuel Cell Catalyst

    Newly Discovered Design Rules Lead to Better Fuel Cell Catalyst

    Optimized oxides made from common metals use less energy and show the potential of new design approach.

    Too Close for Comfort: Nanoparticles Need Some Space to Transfer Energy

    Too Close for Comfort: Nanoparticles Need Some Space to Transfer Energy

    Particle crowding interferes with moving energy efficiently along promising molecular chains.

    Atomic Snapshots of Photosynthesis

    Atomic Snapshots of Photosynthesis

    Scientists catch details with atomic resolution, potentially helping design systems to use sunlight and water to produce fuels.


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