Our first stop was at the Analytical Chemistry Lab complex. This lab specializes in chemical analysis of radioactive samples and can provide a complete isotopic identification. Within the lab, there are smaller units such as the Alpha Spectroscopy lab for identifying various alpha-emitting isotopes such as Plutonium, Uranium, Thorium and others. We visited another facility with the formidable name of Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrograph, or ICP-MS for short. The mass spectrograph is extremely sensitive capable of identifying even trace levels (micrograms) of heavy metals.
Our second stop was at a relatively new lab directed toward targeted alpha therapy. The lab produces Actiniium225 with a Thorium229 generator. They will soon have two new generators attached to glove boxes that will greatly enhance their production capacity. They have the capability to make a fully conjugated ligand ready for injection in tumor studies. For example, they recently delivered a chelated Ac225 attached to the antibody for the Human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2).
Our last stop was at the Biological Research Facility (BRF) that conducts animal (mostly mice) studies on radiation effects. These studies include biological uptake and metabolism of radioactive isotopes and monitoring of DNA damage. The lab conducts in-house experiments as well as hosting outside investigators. It is a complete animal care facility including an on-staff veterinarian. The facility has its own Co60 and Cs137 gamma sources in a radiation hall large enough to cover a very wide range of doses and dose rates.
Written By: William Carithers, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the 11th International Symposium on Targeted Alpha Therapy (TAT-10) April 1 - April 4, 2019 - Ottawa, ON, Canada