Radionuclide therapies utilize radiopharmaceutical drugs that target specific types of tumors. Releasing energy, these drugs can bring radiation to tumors in targeted doses and therefore sparing normal and healthy tissues.
Radiopharmaceutical consists of a radioisotope ion bonded to an organic molecule, which in turn conveys the radioisotope to the targeted organ, tissue, or cell. The choice of the radioisotope depends on the affinity or the binding power to the target structures of the tumor-like antigens and receptors. The radiation from the radioactive nuclide damages the DNA of the cancer cells, killing them in the process and shrinking the tumors. Radiopharmaceuticals not only effectively eliminate malignant tumor cells but also spare healthy tissues and organs.
The ionizing radiation emitted by the radionuclide determines the biological activity of the radiopharmaceutical. In radionuclide therapy, a different type of radionuclide is needed and far from those that emit gamma radiation that can penetrate the body. As such, radionuclides appropriate for tumor therapy are those with alpha or beta emitters as these can penetrate radiation into nearby tissues.
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