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Gel technology offers a promising approach toward cancer treatment

June 2013


radiogel technology
In this CT scan-derived image, the radiogel is the solid mass, holding yttrium-90 particles in place within the tumor.

An injectable radiogel technology developed by PNNL delivers the yttrium-90 medical isotope to a precise location in the body for targeted radiation therapy, while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. Since 2010, PNNL has been working with publicly-held Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation (AMIC) of Kennewick, Wash., to move radiogels toward commercial application.

Why it Matters:

Safe, effective and relatively low-cost cancer treatments are needed for solid tumors that can’t be surgically removed. Yttrium-90 delivers a high energy beta particle with minimal damage to healthy tissues and decays quickly with a three day half-life.


PNNL’s innovation—a non-toxic, injectable liquid polymer—is infused with microspheres that contain radioactive yttrium-90 particles. In the body, the liquid solution quickly warms and forms a gel that holds the yttrium-90 particles in place at the target site, maximizing the overall radiation dose to cancer cells and minimizing radiation exposure and associated side effects in nearby normal tissues. Once the yttrium-90 decays, the gel resorbs naturally—in contrast to treatments that remain in the body indefinitely.

What’s Next:

AMIC’s next steps in commercializing the technology involve further product testing and characterization, and obtaining regulatory approval. Toward this objective, PNNL has provided follow-on assistance in several areas, and these subsequent efforts have also helped determine that it will be possible to further optimize the technology’s effectiveness. In addition, PNNL and AMIC, in collaboration with the University of Washington Department of Radiology, were awarded a nearly $150,000 Washington State Life Sciences Discovery Fund grant in 2012 for additional assessment and testing of the technology.


Longstanding PNNL capabilities in radiochemistry, radiation physics and materials chemistry gave rise to the radiogel technology, which also has benefited from funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.


June 2013

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