Release date: Winter 1999
Contact: Media Relations, (509) 375-3776
Delivering a dose of hope - Brain cancer patients at Switzerland’s University Hospital in Basel are receiving an innovative new cancer therapy that relies on a derivative of nuclear bomb production waste. Through a process patented by Pacific Northwest, an ultra-pure form of the medical isotope yttrium-90 is being extracted from waste stores for treatment of a variety of cancers. In this Phase 1 clinical trial of a brain cancer therapy called beta-radiopeptide-brachytherapy, patients receive an injection of yttrium-90 linked to specially engineered peptides. Once inside the tumor, peptides seek and bind to brain tumor cells, delivering a high dose of radiation to cancerous cells while minimizing impact to surrounding healthy tissue. The treatment causes few side effects and can be administered on an outpatient basis. Final trial results are expected by summer 1999.
Technology provides “smart” tracking - A new method of tracking the security of materials has been developed at Pacific Northwest for use by industry, military or intelligence agencies. Pacific Northwest researchers have created tamper-indicating containers that use electronics, sensors, fiber optics and communications to monitor the condition and activity of contents in real-time.
Containers can be designed for specific needs, such as monitoring for pressure, temperature, movement or the removal of contents. Global positioning capabilities also can be added to a container to continually monitor its location. Tamper-indicating containers can be used by the military for transporting missiles; by medical companies transporting organs; or by companies transporting classified documents. Development of this technology resulted in a spin-off company called Z:ro Limit Composites Inc., which is looking for a commercial partner.
Unfolding the mystery of blood proteins - Pacific Northwest scientists are studying how proteins found in blood unfold when they are exposed to implant materials. Protein unfolding occurs on many surfaces as an important biological process, but the causes and effects of surface-mediated unfolding remain unclear.
Pacific Northwest scientists have examined the rate at which fibrinogen, a blood protein known to cause clotting, unfolds on ionic surfaces. They discovered it unfolds on these surfaces before other blood proteins. If fibrinogen unfolds first and adheres to an artificial heart valve, for example, it may cause clotting and pose a threat to a patient.
Scientists at Pacific Northwest will continue to study fibrinogen and two other blood proteins to learn why, when and how they unfold on various surfaces. Findings may enable researchers to control protein unfolding and possibly prevent harmful clotting or infections. This data could have implications for the bioremediation, pharmaceutical and medical implant industries.
Bringing back the wolf? - What do you think? Researchers from Pacific Northwest and the Olympic Natural Resource Center are asking folks on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula about a proposal to reintroduce the gray wolf to that area. Pacific Northwest is conducting this project through its Natural Resources Management Initiative in conjunction with Battelle, of Columbus, Ohio, which operates Pacific Northwest for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Researchers interviewed about 25 people with different perspectives on the issue and selected a cross section of statements. At three public meetings this January, residents will have a chance to anonymously react to those statements with handheld voting devices. They can strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree or have no opinion on each statement.
Pacific Northwest and ONRC then will prepare a report for Congress, which is expected to decide whether to continue funding studies with the aim of bringing back wolves to an area the animals once roamed.
Materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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