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Originally published Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 8:33 PM

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Battelle scientist gets grant to test radiogel cancer treatment

The $148,880 comes from the state Life Sciences Discovery Fund to help advance the technology and move toward an application for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

Tri-City Herald

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A new technology to kill cancer with radiation will be tested at the University of Washington with a $148,880 grant awarded to a Battelle scientist in Richland.

The award comes from the Life Sciences Discovery Fund to help advance the technology and move toward an application for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to use "radiogel" to treat patients.

The radiogel is the result of years of research by scientists for Battelle to develop a radioactive isotope product that would be injected into the body, stay in place and deliver a high dose of cancer-killing radiation.

The technology could be used for solid cancers that cannot be removed surgically and require high doses of radiation for treatment to be successful, said Darrell Fisher, a senior scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the recipient of the grant for his research for Battelle.

The radiogel includes a polymer and microspheres of the medical isotope yttrium 90 in a water-based solution. The polymer is in liquid form when it's injected to the cancer site, but quickly turns into a gel at body temperature and stays in place.

The polymer binds the microspheres in place as the yttrium 90 bombards the cancer with radiation, with little of the radiation reaching nearby healthy tissue. It has applications for cancers of the liver, brain, head and neck, kidney and pancreas, and is showing promise for eye tumors.

The grant will allow clinicians at the UW Department of Radiology to perform test injections on rabbits, using ultrasound to guide the needle to liver tumors. The technology has been licensed to Advanced Medical Isotope of Kennewick to produce and distribute, following an option between Battelle and AMIC announced last year.

"We expect the radiogel to become a therapeutic agent that provides physicians with the ability to effectively treat tumors that cannot be removed surgically or that cannot be treated by any other means," said Robert Schenter, chief scientific officer for AMIC.

The Life Sciences Discovery Fund awarded the grant to Fisher as part of a commercialization competition that saw $450,000 awarded in total.

The discovery fund, a state agency, was established in 2005 to make grant investments. Its money comes from donations and from Washington's allocation of payments under a 1998 settlement agreement with tobacco-product manufacturers.

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