Radioimmunotherapy based on α-particle emitters has excellent properties as a treatment against micrometastatic and disseminated cancers because of the short path length (50 – 80 μm) and high linear energy transfer (∼ 100 keV/ μm). Alpha-particles produce clustered DNA double-strand breaks and highly reactive hydroxyl radicals when hitting biological tissue. Hence, targeted α-particle therapy offers the potential of selective tumor cell killing with low damage to surrounding normal tissue. The ideal applications for targeted α-therapy are in treating neoplastic cells in circulation or when cancer cells are present as free-floating cells or spread along compartment walls. This review will provide a brief overview of the most promising radionuclides for targeted α-therapy and compare their relative biological effectiveness (RBE) and normal tissue toxicity.
Keywords: Alpha-particle radiation, radioimmunotherapy, astatine-211, bismuth-213, actinium-225, thorium-227, radiotoxicity, relative biological effectiveness, targeted alpha therapy