Canada’s Bruce Power produces lutetium-177

29 June 2022

An international collaboration between Canada’s Bruce Power, Isogen (a Kinectrics and Framatome company), and ITM Isotope Technologies Munich SE (ITM), has announced the first ever production of lutetium-177, a short-lived medical isotope, in a commercial nuclear power reactor.

This milestone was achieved using a new Isotope Production System (IPS) that was installed in Bruce Power’s unit 7 Candu reactor during a recent planned maintenance outage. The IPS successfully irradiated targets to produce lutetium-177, a medical isotope used in precision oncology for targeted therapy of a growing number of cancers.

“Bruce Power and our partners at Isogen, ITM, and Saugeen Ojibway Nation are thrilled to have reached this exciting milestone, bringing our partnership project to its final phase as we complete commissioning and approach commercial operations,” said James Scongack, Bruce Power’s Chief Development Officer and Executive Vice President, Operational Services.

As part of commissioning activities, ytterbium-176 was irradiated using the IPS, designed and installed by Isogen, to produce lutetium-177. These isotopes were then sent to ITM in Germany for processing, using its proprietary manufacturing methodology and industrial scale production capacities yielding high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade no-carrier-added lutetium-177, which ITM provides to health care facilities around the world.

“Accomplishing the design, development, installation, and implementation milestones of a complex project such as the IPS demands a high level of expertise and commitment,” said François Gauché, Director of Framatome Healthcare at Framatome. “We applaud Bruce Power’s commitment to innovation that supports the continuous production of both electricity and medical isotopes, and to harnessing the therapeutic power of nuclear energy.”

ITM will receive exclusive access to the irradiation service provided by the IPS for the production of lutetium-177, further expanding its capabilities of producing this isotope at a large scale for hospitals worldwide, global partners, and ITM’s own clinical pipeline of radiopharmaceuticals for hard-to-treat cancers.

Bruce Power will market the new isotope supply in an historic 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 to the community. “Today’s announcement is a big win for our Gamzook’aamin Aakoziwin project,” said Chief Veronica Smith, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. “We all know somebody who has been affected by cancer, and Saugeen Ojibway Nation is proud of the part we have played, and will continue to play, in this project.”

With this milestone now achieved, commissioning activities will be completed this summer and will be followed by commercial operations, pending final regulatory review and approval by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

Image: An innovative new Isotope Production System has been installed in Bruce Power's unit 7 Candu reactor (photo courtesy of Bruce Power)

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