Bruce Power and Isogen (a partnership between Kinectrics and Framatome) have completed the installation of an Isotope Production System (IPS) at unit 7 of Canada’s Bruce NPP making it the first power reactor in the world with installed capability to produce Lutetium-177 (Lu-177), Bruce Power said on 24 January. Lu-177 is used in the treatment of various cancers, such as neuroendocrine tumours and prostate cancer. In the future, IPS will also have the ability to produce other isotopes for medical uses.

“This installation of the IPS is an exciting milestone on our journey to becoming the first power reactor in the world to provide a scalable, game-changing solution in the supply of life-saving medical isotopes for the global medical community,” said James Scongack, Bruce Power’s Chief Development Officer and Executive Vice President, Operational Services. “Our medical isotope programme and the IPS installation are a result of years of innovation and development in partnership with Isogen, Saugeen Ojibway Nation, and ITM, and will provide large-scale capacity to help produce medical isotopes, which will be used across the world in new treatments to fight cancer.”

With the new system now installed, activities will shift to planned commissioning along with preparation activities for commercial production that will follow once these activities and regulatory submissions are successfully completed.

“Ontario is leading the way in the production and supply of medical isotopes around the world,” said Todd Smith, Ontario’s Minister of Energy. “I’m proud of the innovative work being done by Bruce Power and its partners in the supply chain, including Framatome and Kinectrics. Their efforts are helping to further cement our position as an international isotope superpower, while providing critical medical tools to help meet the needs of patients battling cancer.”

The IPS was developed and manufactured by Isogen, a joint venture between Framatome and Kinectrics, which is focused on developing innovative isotope production technologies. “The installation and successful transfer of the first target marks a major accomplishment and successful implementation of Framatome Healthcare technology; the first Isotope Production System in a power reactor for commercial production of therapeutic medical isotopes,” said Curtis Van Cleve, President and CEO of Framatome Canada Ltd.  

David Harris, CEO of Kinectrics said: “The entire team demonstrated tremendous dedication, especially during the pandemic. This was a critical step to enable the production of Lutetium-177 for our partner, ITM, and to fortifying a strong, reliable, and large-scale global supply chain of life-saving isotopes, that both physicians and patients can depend on.”

With its new IPS system, Bruce Power will conduct the irradiation of Ytterbium-176 (176Yb) as a first step in the production of no-carrier-added Lutetium-177 (n.c.a. 177Lu). Processing of the irradiated Ytterbium-176 for the production of n.c.a. Lutetium-177, as well as the global supply of n.c.a. 177Lu, will be handled by ITM Isotope Technologies Munich SE (ITM), a leading radiopharmaceutical biotech company, a major producer of Lu-177 for pharmaceutical use. 

“The successful installation of this production site builds an important milestone in our partnership with Bruce Power and Isogen to scale up the production of high-quality medical radioisotopes,” said Steffen Schuster, CEO at ITM. 

ITM Medical Isotopes GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of ITM Isotope Technologies Munich SE, had signed a supply arrangement for Lutetium-177 with Isogen in 2020, which was made possible through Isogen’s partnership with Bruce Power. 

The installation of the IPS is a significant step in the landmark isotope project, which is a partnership that began more than three years ago with over 400 dedicated professionals working on various stages of the project. In November 2021, Bill Walker, MPP of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, introduced a Private Member’s motion – which passed with all party support – to assert Ontario’s leadership role in the production and supply of medical isotopes as a strategic priority for the province. Today’s announcement exemplifies that Ontario continues to be the forefront of medical isotope technology.

Bruce Power will market the new isotope supply in a collaboration partnership with Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON). The partnership project with SON, named “Gamzook’aamin Aakoziwin,” includes an equity stake for SON and a revenue-sharing program that provides a direct benefit.

“From the initial concept in 2019 to production expected in 2022, our Gamzook’aamin Aakoziwin project is on track to meet an ambitious timeline to have isotope supply ready to meet the increasing demand from doctors and cancer patients around the world,” said Chief Lester Anoquot, Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation. “Short-lived medical isotopes are essential tools for doctors and researchers in the fight against cancer, and this project will provide a much-needed source of these isotopes for patients close to home, in our communities, and around the world,” added Chief Veronica Smith, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.