Bruce Power said on 24 September that it had received approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to take the next step forward for new isotope production becoming the first power reactor globally to commercially produce Lutetium-177, an innovative therapeutic isotope used in the treatment of prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumours.
“This Project is an innovative partnership between Bruce Power, IsoGen, Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) and ITM and is a game changer for the supply of medical isotopes and the global medical community in the fight against cancer,” said James Scongack, Bruce Power Chief Development Officer and EVP Operational Services. “This is another important step forward to utilise our Candu reactors to provide a new large-scale capacity for production in the medical isotope supply chain, cementing Canada’s place as a global isotope superpower.” Isogen is a joint venture between Framatome and Kinectrics to enable the use of Candu reactors to produce medical isotopes needed to treat and diagnose patients with serious diseases world-wide.
“The Framatome team conducted extensive research and development in Canada and modified German technology for use in a CANDU reactor, which resulted in 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.
The Isotope Production System (IPS), designed and manufactured by Isogen, will be used to produce Lutetium-177. The irradiated Ytterbium targets obtained from the IPS will be processed at ITM premises, where the highly pure no-carrier-added (n.c.a.) Lutetium-177 will be produced in pharmaceutical quality. N.c.a. Lutetium-177 will be marketed globally by ITM under the brand name EndolucinBeta® as well as leveraged for clinical supply to advance the company’s own pipeline. ITM is a German based leading radiopharmaceutical biotech company focused on the development, production and global supply of medical radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals.
Kinectrics CEO David Harris said the licence granted by CNSC marks a critical milestone for Isogen. “This approval showcases the advantages of bringing together the significant investments and capabilities of the partners to advance the technology, and develop the safety, engineering and licensing packages necessary to introduce such a cutting-edge technology in a safe and reliable manner without impact to normal reactor operation.”
Bruce Power’s collaboration with Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) will see the partners jointly marketing new isotopes in support of the global fight against cancer while also working together in creating new economic opportunities within the SON territory by establishing new isotope infrastructure. “It’s very exciting times for SON as we move forward to the next phase of the Isotope project with Bruce Power,” said Chief Lester Anoquot, Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation. “Many members of our community have been impacted by cancer in some way. We are proud to play a leadership role in the global fight against cancer, while building economic opportunities in our community.” The partnership, which includes an equity stake and revenue-sharing model for SON, is named Gamzook’aamin aakoziwin, which means ‘We are Teaming up on the Sickness’ in the traditional Anishinaabe language.
The work to install the Isotope Production System is a part of the ongoing Life-Extension Program at the Bruce Power site, which began in 2016 and remains on track. As the commissioning process continues there will be additional regulatory hold points to allow CNSC staff to confirm operational readiness of the Isotope Production System (IPS) prior to the start of Lu-177 production. Bruce Power will finalise documentation and CNSC staff will review commissioning test results to verify the IPS meets its design and safety analyses requirements.
Photo: Bruce nuclear power plant (credit Bruce Power)