New arrangement to boost supply of Lutetium-177

2 November 2020

Germany’s ITM Medical Isotopes and Canada-based Isogen have signed a formal supply arrangement to provide a reliable supply of lutetium-177 to the world’s health care system using Canada’s Bruce Power reactors as a key supply source.

ITM Medical Isotopes is a subsidiary of the biotechnology and radiopharmaceutical group of companies Isotopen Technologien München (ITM), and Isogen is a joint venture between France’s Framatome and Canada-based Kinectrics. The arrangement was made possible through Isogen’s partnership with Bruce Power, Canada’s only private sector nuclear energy generator, in combination with ITM’s know-how in the development of medical isotopes. It aims to ensure reliable, consistent supply of medical isotopes for use in targeted therapies for the next 15 years.

The agreement, based on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in November 2019, defines the use of the new Isotope Production System (IPS) to be deployed in conjunction with ongoing Life-Extension work at the Bruce Power site. The IPS, designed and manufactured in Ontario by Isogen, offers functional flexibility, and will support the future production of other isotopes in addition to Lutetium-177.

Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, said: “The innovation of Ontario companies, and international partnerships are critical to ensuring Ontario’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak.” He added that the new arrangement “is further proof that Ontario is open for business, open for jobs and open for investment”.

Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s president and CEO said the Isotope Production System “is a game-changer that will allow us to access a key neutron source in our reactors, and create unprecedented capacity and redundancy of isotope production to improve global access to these innovative tools in the fight against cancer”. The new agreement is a big step forward in achieving our goal of long-term, sustainable, and flexible production of medical isotopes at the Bruce Power site.”

Production of Lutetium-177 at Bruce Power is expected to start in 2022, following regulatory and other approvals. Lutetium-177 is produced by irradiating Ytterbium-176. The process involves placing Ytterbium-176 source material in special sealed containers that are then conveyed into one of the Bruce Power reactors using the proprietary Isotope Production System (IPS). The Ytterbium-176 is then irradiated for about one week, and the resulting intermediate Lutetium-177 is then sent to ITM for further processing into highly pure pharmaceutical grade Lutetium-177 for subsequent distribution to health care facilities worldwide.

Development of the IPS is currently in its final phase of engineering, testing, and design at the Framatome engineering facility in Kincardine, Ontario.

“This is a landmark day for Isogen and we are thrilled to finalize our agreement with ITM,” said John D’Angelo, President of Isogen. “Through the combination of Isogen’s proprietary production technology, the reliability and capacity of the Bruce Power reactors, and ITM’s patented processing technology and industry-leading supply network, we have set the stage to create the largest, most secure supply of Lutetium-177 in the world. This will be a benefit to our pharma partners, and to cancer patients now and in the future, knowing they can rely on a stable supply of isotope for decades to come.”

Processing and global distribution of pharmaceutical grade Lutetium-177 by ITM is enabled through the company’s global network of radiopharmaceutical production facilities. The partnership’s primary goal is to guarantee the supply of pharmaceutical grade Lutetium-177 and meet the medical community’s growing demand for this important isotope.

Photo: Lutetium-177 will be produced by the Bruce Nuclear Power Plant

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