This website is no longer updated and will close down soon.

Please visit the new ITU web pages on the JRC Science Hub and remember to update your bookmarks.

The new JRC Science Hub brings together scientific knowledge produced by the Joint Research Centre, the in-house science service of the European Commission.

Direct Contact

European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute for Transuranium Elements

Alfred Morgenstern 
Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1
76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen
Tel.: +49 (0)7247-951-0 E-mail

Targeted Alpha-Radionuclide Therapy

Cancer is one of the main health problems and of growing importance. The treatments available today, even though often effective, cannot permanently cure the majority of cancers. This is typically true for cancers that have spread around the body from the initial tumour site.  New kinds of treatment therefore need to be developed.

Targeted Radionuclide Therapy is such a new kind of cancer treatment. It combines new developments in molecular biology and in radionuclides that are new for medical applications. Due to their decay characteristics alpha-emitting-radionuclides seem particularly promising selectively destroy cancer cells. 

An increasing number of different cancer types are under study in pre-clinical and clinical approaches, including in vitro studies, animal studies and phase I/II clinical trials. In addition, recent studies have demonstrated the applicability of targeted alpha therapy for the treatment of fungal, bacterial and viral infections.

Labelling of antibodies with Bismuth-213 for targeted
tumour therapy.

ITU contributes to the development of targeted alpha therapy for cancer and microbial infections from pre-clinical studies to clinical trials. A main objective of the alpha-immunotherapy group at ITU is the production of alpha emitters to assure their reliable supply to hospitals and cancer research centres in Europe, USA and Australia. ITU also provides radiochemical support,
equipment and training to partners to ensure the safe use of alpha emitters.

The Alpha-Immunotherapy group is also active in the synthesis and testing of novel chelate molecules for the stable binding of alpha emitters to carrier molecules such as monoclonal antibodies and peptides.


The main objectives of ITU's radiobiology project include the in vitro testing of the cytotoxicity of novel radio-immunoconjugates and the investigation of the mechanisms of radiation induced damage in malignant and normal human cells, aimed to improve the efficacy of targeted alpha therapy. The biological studies performed at ITU also include the labelling of biomolecules such as monoclonal antibodies and the development of radionuclide chelators.