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Injection nuclear medicine

Multipurpose research reactor providing radiopharmaceutical

Radioactive phosphorous for implantable medical device to treat pancreatic cancer in global clinical trial

OPAL reactor produces radioactive phosphorous
The OPAL research reactor activates phosphorous

ANSTO is providing expertise and irradiation services for Australian biomedical company OncoSil Medical, which is based in Sydney. The company’s device OncoSil™, is an implantable radiotherapy device containing a phosphorus radioisotope which is used to treat patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer tumours.

Evaluation of OncoSil™ is currently underway in a global clinical trial being conducted in Australia, US and UK, with 25 patients now successfully implanted. Oncosil Medical is listed on the ASX under the code 'OSL’.

The company’s approach involves the delivery of concentrated and localised radiation from microscopic sources which are inserted directly into a tumour.

The OPAL multi-purpose nuclear reactor at ANSTO is providing “activation” of the Microparticles through the production of phosphorus-32 (32P); a radioisotope which is encapsulated within the Microparticles.

The OncoSilTM implantis delivered directly to pancreatic tumours via an ultrasonically guided endoscopic procedure.

There are several Australian patients among the subjects enrolled in the current global clinical trial, which is evaluating the safety and efficacy of the Microparticles, in combination with chemotherapy, for adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.

Preliminary results were reported by Oncosil Medical at the European Association of Nuclear Medicine in October last year in Vienna showing the device was able to control spread of disease by 100% up to 16 weeks post implantation, while also reducing tumour volumes by ~70 per cent up to 12 weeks following the procedure.

These results are particularly impressive given the lack of breakthroughs in recent decades treating pancreatic cancer, and were favourably received by the nuclear medicine global community.

OncolsilTM Microparticles are designed to deliver a minimum dose radiation of 100 gray in one single treatment. It does this while at the same time sparing any significant dose to healthy tissue, such as the normal pancreas.

This internal radiation therapy can be compared with external beam therapy in which doses to the tumour are usually significantly lower, and the risk of collateral damage is significantly higher.

There are more than 280,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer worldwide every year and 265,000 die of their disease.

Oncologists recommend conventional radiation therapy in some cases but it can damage healthy tissue. Almost 80 per cent of pancreatic cancer cases are inoperable.

As a promising alternative, OncosilTM Microparticles have been developed with the involvement of researchers and clinicians over several years.

The useful properties of phosphorous radioisotopes have been known since the 1940s, and they have been used for the treatment of blood cancers, other metastatic malignancies, eye disease, as well as for diagnostic means and in palliative care.

 Read ANSTO's Health Strategy and our focus on producing next-generation nuclear medicine.




Nuclear medicine