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Special Report: IG-0795

May 29, 2008

Meeting Medical and Research Needs for Isotopes Derived from Uranium-233

As part of its program to produce isotopes for medical, research and industrial purposes. the Departnient of Energy (Department) has used its unique nuclear facilities to produce thorium-229 isotopes f'rom its inventory of uranium-233. Thorium-229 is used to create actiniurn-225 and its progeny isotope, bismuth-213. Both actinium and bismuth are extreniely rare isotopes that are now being used in clinical trials at  the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Early research results have been promising, showing improved cancer survivability rates in test populations. Consistent with these research results, a 2001 Departmental Report to Congress underscored the importance of maintaining a supply of these isotopes to support promising medical research and treatment. Specifically, the report stated that "the supply of actinium-225lbismuth-213 available as uranium-233 decay products will be inadequate if therapeutic applications for leukemia become even moderately successful and will become woefully inadequate if successfully applied to other types of cancer including prostate, breast. lymphomas, and various forms of brain cancer."

Topic: Management and Administration