New radionuclide production pathways
While surgery, chemotherapy and external radiotherapy are currently the main treatment methods for cancer, internal radiotherapy is showing great potential for the treatment of patients with metastasized tumors. This type of therapy generally uses radioactive atoms attached to a disease-specific targeting molecule. Massive improvements in current therapies are possible by selecting radionuclides with specific properties for different patients, moving towards personalized medicine. However, a combination of lack of supply of medically relevant radionuclides limits the research and development into the use of these, and hence halting clinical trials. To support the use of new radionuclides, it is important that they are abundantly available.
There’s a lot to be done! If you are interested in doing your bachelor or master project on this subject, you will develop novel radionuclide production and separation methods, as well as work on the recycling of the target material. Some isotopes of interest include 111Ag, which can be used as a new type of antimicrobial, or for example 47Sc or 175Yb for tumor therapy. Separation and recovery can be performed based on e.g. electrochemistry, liquid-liquid or solvent extraction, microfluidics, as well as ion exchange chromatography.