Bruce Power and ITM to supply cancer therapy isotope

29 June 2018

Bruce Power and ITG, a subsidiary of radiopharmaceutical technology company ITM Isotopen Technologien München (ITM), have launched a joint effort to explore the production of the medical radioisotope lutetium-177 (Lu-177) at Bruce Power's Candu reactors.

ITM's Mark Harfensteller, seated at left, signs the MoU with Bruce's James Scongack, front centre. Also shown are Bruce Power's Pat Dalzell at front right, with ITM's Ingo Russnak and Bruce Power's Kurt Wigle standing. (Image: Bruce Power)

Lu-177 is used in targeted radionuclide therapy to treat cancers like neuroendocrine tumours and prostate cancer. The medical-grade radioisotope is used to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

The companies yesterday announced the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the production of Lu-177 at Bruce, which they say has the ability to meet global supply needs until 2064. The partnership aims to meet the medical community's growing demand for the radioisotope. Development, processing, and global distribution of Lu-177 will be managed by ITG.

Bruce's Candu units already produce cobalt-60, which is used for the sterilisation of medical equipment and in a specialised form of cancer treatment called the Gamma Knife. The company is part of the recently established Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council, which aims to develop collective solutions to maintain Canada's leadership position on the global isotope stage following the shut-down earlier this year of the National Research Universal reactor after over 60 years of operation.

Bruce Power in 2017 signed an agreement with Areva NP - now Orano - for Areva to design and supply equipment to be installed in the existing Bruce Candu units to add online production at commercial scale of a wide range of isotopes including short half-life isotopes such as Mo-99, Lu-177 and iridium-192 using a system that inserts and removes targets with little impact on the normal operation of the power reactors.

"Bruce Power is a world leader in the production of critical radioisotopes used to treat cancer," said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power's president and CEO. "By developing innovative ways to generate these radioisotopes, we help ensure that the medical community has access to a reliable source of medical radioisotopes for Targeted Radionuclide Therapy."

Steffen Schuster, CEO of ITM, said: "With Bruce Power's long-term outlook to operate its facility through 2064 and its existing expertise with cobalt production, we have the opportunity to provide a stable source of lutetium-177 to cancer patients worldwide."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News