Astatine has as many 37 known isotopes and the most promising alpha-emitting radionuclide is astatine-211. Astatine-211 can be produced in reasonable amount from bombarding natural bismuth targets and at nuclear reaction utilizing straightforward methods.
The alpha-emitting radionuclide compound holds great potential for treatment of cancer through the development of molecular radiotherapy agents. Since it is not found in nature and, also it is only routinely made by a few cyclotrons –and hence the availability of astatine-211 to be available to researchers for preclinical and clinical investigations is severely limited. These investigations are needed to gain an insight into the cancer therapy. Researchers are on the constant struggle for developing methods for production of man-made astatine-211, which will increase its availability for scientific investigations.
A case in point is The DOE Isotope Program. The program is designed with an objective of making astatine-211 available by boosting up its production on cyclotrons that can produce the required alpha beams, so that it can be manufactured and shipped to researchers and investigators within and outside US. At the University of Washington, scale-up of the bismuth irradiation was achieved by increasing the area on which alpha beam falls and increasing the intensity of the bismuth target.
At the University of Washington, the increased production of astatine isotope was achieved by redesigning and building a new target mechanism for the clinical cyclotron.
Since the bismuth metal has low melting point (272°C) researchers needed to increase irradiated surface area to make room for proper cooling during the process of high beam intensity irradiations. This increase in size of the target area made it hard to fit into tube ovens available commercially for isolation of astatine-211 by the process of distillation. The larger surface area of the glassware used led to the decrease in yield. Scientists developed an improved isolation approach and termed it as “wet chemistry” in order to overcome the aforementioned constraints and the astatine-211 was separated from the target by dissolving the element bismuth in acid. This process was followed by extracting it into another suitable solvent that help in the exclusion of bismuth.
Leading global industries have made a breakthrough in the commercial production of astatine. Recently, Prof Research Reports has added a report titled “Global and Chinese Astatine Industry, 2009-2019 Market Research Report”. The report offers an extensive analysis of key drivers and restraints, business profile & innovative strategies of key market players, market shares and size along with detailed forecast and growth prospects through 2019.