Two partnership agreements were signed in Canada in November to advance a solution to deliver a stable global supply of medical isotopes from Bruce Power’s nuclear facility. This leverages the infrastructure work underway at Bruce Power to extend the life of the facility and its existing capability producing isotopes for use in health care around the world through 2064.
The agreements involved Ontario-based utility Bruce Power, Toronto-based Kinectrics, France’s Framatome and ITM, a biotechnology and radiopharmaceutical group based in Munich. The partnership will use Ontario-based facilities from the partners in Tiverton, Teeswater and Toronto to support their work.
An Isotope Production System on a Bruce Power reactor can be used to turn targets into medical isotopes through irradiation. Lutetium-177 is made by irradiating stable Ytterbium-176 in special containers in the reactor for about two weeks. After this period it is sent for processing and distribution to health care facilities.
ITM will deliver Ytterbium-176 targets to the irradiation site, while Framatome and Kinectrics will be responsible for handling and preparing the Ytterbium-176 targets.
Earlier this year, Bruce Power and ITM completed a feasibility study that concluded that Bruce Power and its partners Framatome and Kinectrics, following regulatory and other approvals, are uniquely positioned to fulfil the necessary requirements to establish isotope delivery units at the Bruce Power reactors for the subsequent production of ITM’s Lutetium-177. The study examined factors such as technical, medical and nuclear regulatory requirements, radiation protection and waste management. It also verified the specific requirements of compatibility with ITM’s target and processing technology.
The new partnership, in conjunction with Bruce Power’s life extension programme (LEP), will help to create a framework for isotope production until 2064, which is the expected life of the Bruce Power site following LEP launched in 2016 which remains on time and on budget. Pending regulatory and other approvals, the isotope production system for Lutetium-177 is expected to begin production in 2022. The isotope is used in targeted radionuclide therapy for the treatment of a growing variety of cancers.
For more than 60 years, Canada has been a global leader in the research, development and production of medical isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals. More than 40% of all single-use medical devices produced globally are sterilized with Cobalt-60. More than half of the global supply is produced within Ontario from the Bruce Power and Pickering reactors. When including additional supply from global sources, Canada refines more than 90 per cent of the Cobalt-60 market globally.