Cancer radioimmunotherapy with alpha-emitting nuclides

  • Olivier Couturier
  • Stéphane Supiot
  • Marie Degraef-Mougin
  • Alain Faivre-Chauvet
  • Thomas Carlier
  • Jean-François Chatal
  • François Davodeau
  • Michel Cherel
Review Article


In lymphoid malignancies and in certain solid cancers such as medullary thyroid carcinoma, somewhat mixed success has been achieved when applying radioimmunotherapy (RIT) with β-emitters for the treatment of refractory cases. The development of novel RIT with α-emitters has created new opportunities and theoretical advantages due to the high linear energy transfer (LET) and the short path length in biological tissue of α-particles. These physical properties offer the prospect of achieving selective tumoural cell killing. Thus, RIT with α-emitters appears particularly suited for the elimination of circulating single cells or cell clusters or for the treatment of micrometastases at an early stage. However, to avoid non-specific irradiation of healthy tissues, it is necessary to identify accessible tumoural targets easily and rapidly. For this purpose, a small number of α-emitters have been investigated, among which only a few have been used for in vivo preclinical studies. Another problem is the availability and cost of these radionuclides; for instance, the low cost and the development of a reliable actinium-225/bismuth-213 generator were probably determining elements in the choice of bismuth-213 in the only human trial of RIT with an α-emitter. This article reviews the literature concerning monoclonal antibodies radiolabelled with α-emitters that have been developed for possible RIT in cancer patients. The principal radio-immunoconjugates are considered, starting with physical and chemical properties of α-emitters, their mode of production, the possibilities and difficulties of labelling, in vitro studies and finally, when available, in vivo preclinical and clinical studies.


Radioimmunotherapy Radionuclides Alpha particles 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olivier Couturier
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stéphane Supiot
    • 1
  • Marie Degraef-Mougin
    • 1
  • Alain Faivre-Chauvet
    • 1
  • Thomas Carlier
    • 1
  • Jean-François Chatal
    • 1
  • François Davodeau
    • 1
  • Michel Cherel
    • 1
  1. 1.INSERM U 601NantesFrance
  2. 2.Department of Nuclear MedicinePlace Alexis RicordeauNantesFrance

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