Rosatom, Necsa to cooperate in nuclear medicine

27 July 2018

Rusatom Healthcare - a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom - and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) have signed an agreement to cooperate on non-power applications of nuclear technology, particularly nuclear medicine. Under the agreement, the partners plan to construct two small-scale reactors as well as a cyclotron in South Africa for the production of medical isotopes.

The agreement was signed by Necsa Chairman Kelvin Kemm (second from left) and Rusatom Healthcare Director General Denis Cherednichenko (second from right) (Image: Rosatom)

The agreement was signed yesterday on the sidelines of the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.

Through the agreement, Rusatom Healthcare and Necsa will "explore the full potential of deepening mutually beneficial cooperation in the sphere of innovation and technological development related to peaceful uses of nuclear energy", Rosatom said. "It further outlines a number of areas in which the parties intend to cooperate but does not create any rights or obligations under international or national law," it added.

The main area of cooperation will be nuclear medicine, particularly cancer treatment in Africa and abroad. Rusatom Healthcare and Necsa plan to partner in the construction of two innovative "solution reactors" in South Africa. Rosatom said solution reactors are small-scale and relatively inexpensive reactors that are designed specifically for the cost-effective production of medical radioisotopes. In addition, they plan to construct a commercial cyclotron in South Africa "to further increase the production capacity of nuclear medicine in the region". The two parties also intend to roll out cancer treatment centres across the African continent and Russia.

Denis Cherednichenko, director general of Rusatom Healthcare, said: "Both parties have a great deal of experience in this sector and we believe that a combined effort will open up new markets and hasten new technological advancements in the sector. Nuclear medicine is rapidly expanding globally and plays a vitally important role in the early detection of cancers and other non-communicable diseases."

Necsa Chairman Kelvin Kemm said: "This is an exciting time for us. We have long been planning a massive expansion of our nuclear medicine operations and look forward to exploring these opportunities with our Russian counterparts." He added, "Sadly, only a small percentage of the African population have access to this lifesaving technology, something that we aim to change. This will be done with the collaboration of local government, business and medical entities in each country."

"Together with our very experienced counterparts in South Africa, we feel that we could truly make a difference to the lives of millions across the globe," said Cherednichenko.

Moscow-based Rusatom Healthcare was established to develop nuclear medicine and innovative product processing technologies in Russia and abroad. It incorporates JSC V/O Isotope, JSC NIITFA, JSC L Ya Karpov NIFKhI, JSC Rusreactor and two centres for production of fluorine-based ultra-short-lived radionuclides for PET-diagnostics. Rusatom Healthcare implements projects in two areas - nuclear medicine and innovative product processing technologies.

NTP Radioisotopes - a subsidiary of the state-owned Necsa - is among the world's top producers and distributors of key medical radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), and radioisotope-based diagnostic imaging and therapy products, including iodine-131 and lutetium-177. The company says it currently supplies between one-quarter and one-third of global demand for Mo-99. NTP is also a leading supplier of irradiation services and radioactive sealed sources including caesium-137, iridium-192, and cobalt-60.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News