Towards elucidating the radiochemistry of astatine – Behavior in chloroform
Journal article, 2019
Targeted alpha therapy of disseminated cancer is an emerging technique where astatine-211 is one of the most promising candidate nuclides. Although astatine has been known for over 70 years, its chemistry is still largely unexplored, mainly due to the lack of stable or long-lived isotopes. However, substantial amounts of astatine-211 can be produced in cyclotrons by the bombardment of natural bismuth. The astatine can be recovered from the resulting irradiated target material through either wet extraction or dry-distillation. Chloroform has become an important intermediate solvent for the recovery of astatine after production, especially following dry distillation. In this work, the radiochemistry of astatine in chloroform was investigated using evaporation, solvent extraction, chromatographic methods and molecular modeling. The extraction of astatine in chloroform led to the formation of multiple astatine species, allowing for evaporation of the solvent to dryness without any loss of activity. Radiolysis products of chloroform were shown to play an important role in the speciation of astatine forming both reactive and kinetically stable compounds. It was hypothesized that reactions with chlorine, as well as trichloromethyl hydroperoxide, forming polar astatine compounds are important reactions under the current experimental conditions.