Toxicity and relative biological effectiveness of alpha emitting radioimmunoconjugates

Curr Radiopharm. 2011 Oct;4(4):321-8. doi: 10.2174/1874471011104040321.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alpha Particles / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates / therapeutic use*
  • Immunoconjugates / toxicity*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Relative Biological Effectiveness


  • Immunoconjugates