Actinium-225 PSMA-617: Revolutionising Prostate Cancer Treatment

Actinium-225 PSMA-617, targeting PSMA with alpha particle radiation, marks a new era in prostate cancer treatment.  Clinical trials show significant decreases in PSA levels and extended survival rates with minimal side effects.  Tandem therapy combining 225Ac-PSMA-617 with 177Lu-PSMA-617 presents a promising approach for enhanced efficacy and safety.  Further research is essential to optimise this treatment and broaden its applicability.

The Rise of Actinium-225 PSMA-617

Prostate cancer, one of the most common cancers among men, has witnessed a significant shift in treatment paradigms with the advent of radioligand therapies.  Following the therapeutic success of 177Lu-Vipivotide tetraxetan, the next generation of treatment emerges with Actinium-225 PSMA-617.  This novel therapy showcases promising results in combating prostate cancer, offering new hope for patients worldwide.

By the end of 2021, several hundred patients had been treated with Actinium-225 PSMA-617.  This innovative treatment targets the Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA), a protein abundantly found in prostate cancer cells.  225Ac-PSMA-617 binds to this antigen, delivering potent alpha particle radiation directly to the cancer cells, thereby reducing the risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Target/Mechanism: PSMA

PSMA is a cell surface protein that is overexpressed in prostate cancer cells.  Targeting PSMA allows for direct delivery of therapeutic agents to the tumour site.

Carrier/Ligand: Vipivotide

Vipivotide acts as the carrier molecule in this therapy, enhancing the targeting efficiency of the radiopharmaceutical to PSMA-positive cells.

Radiation Type: Alpha Particle (α)

Alpha particle radiation, known for its high energy and short range, is the cornerstone of this therapy.  It induces potent cytotoxic effects on cancer cells while minimising collateral damage.

Clinical Trials and Early Results

Pioneering Study in 2016

The first results of 225Ac-PSMA-617 treatment were reported in a 2016 study focusing on two specific patients.  Using 68Ga-PSMA-11 PET/CT scans, the presence of PSMA-positive tumours was validated.  Remarkably, after 23 months post-treatment, these patients showed significant clinical improvements.

Prospective Trials and South African Data

A pivotal early Phase I clinical trial commenced in China in January 2020.  Although the specific form of the PSMA vector used remains unclear, it is highly probable that it was a derivative of PSMA-617.  This study, completed by the end of 2021, paved the way for further research and application.

In South Africa, data published in February 2022 from a series of 53 patients treated with 225Ac-PSMA-617 showed groundbreaking results: over 91% of these patients experienced a more than 50% decrease in PSA levels. Furthermore, the median overall survival (OS) for patients with a PSA decline of over 50% had not been reached at 55 months post-treatment, indicating prolonged survival benefits.

Tandem Therapy: Combining 177Lu-PSMA-617 and 225Ac-PSMA-617

Recent clinical data have revealed the potential of tandem therapy, which combines lower doses of 177Lu-PSMA-617 with 225Ac-PSMA-617.  This approach aims to maximise therapeutic efficacy while minimising side effects, offering a balanced and effective treatment regime.

The Advantages of Actinium-225 PSMA-617

Targeted Therapy

The precision targeting of 225Ac-PSMA-617 ensures that the radiation is delivered directly to cancer cells, thereby enhancing the treatment’s effectiveness and reducing collateral damage to healthy tissues.

Extended Survival Rates

The significant decrease in PSA levels and prolonged survival rates observed in patients treated with 225Ac-PSMA-617 underscore its potential as a game-changer in prostate cancer treatment.

Reduced Side Effects

The use of alpha particles ensures that radiation damage is confined to the tumour cells, potentially reducing the side effects commonly associated with traditional radiation therapy.

Challenges and Future Directions

While 225Ac-PSMA-617 shows remarkable promise, challenges remain in its widespread application.  The need for further clinical trials to confirm its efficacy and safety across a broader patient population is imperative.  Additionally, research into optimising dosage and minimising potential side effects continues to be a priority.


Actinium-225 PSMA-617 stands as a beacon of hope in the treatment of prostate cancer, building on the success of previous therapies like 177Lu-Vipivotide tetraxetan.  Its targeted mechanism, combined with the potent effects of alpha particle radiation, positions it as a potential mainstay in prostate cancer treatment regimes.  As research progresses, 225Ac-PSMA-617 could redefine the standards of care for prostate cancer patients, offering a more effective, targeted, and tolerable treatment option.

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