Bruce 7 starts producing innovative therapeutic isotope

26 October 2022

The commercial production of lutetium-177 (Lu-177) has begun using a new isotope production system (IPS) that was installed in unit 7 of the Bruce plant in Ontario, Canada, during a planned maintenance outage earlier this year.

The isotope production system at Bruce 7 (Image: Bruce Power)

The project is an international collaboration between Bruce Power, Isogen (a joint venture between Canada's Kinectrics and France's Framatome) and Germany's ITM Isotope Technologies Munich SE.

The start of commercial production of Lu-177 was achieved following completion of final commissioning and regulatory approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and is the culmination of a multi-year project to install a novel IPS in Bruce 7. It marks the first-of-its-kind achievement of a commercial power reactor with additional capability to commercially produce short-lived medical isotopes.

The IPS, designed and installed by Isogen, irradiates ytterbium-176 to produce Lu-177, which is then transported to ITM's manufacturing facility in Germany for processing of pharmaceutical-grade, non-carrier-added Lu-177.

The IPS will provide reliable, industrial-scale production of Lu-177, a medical isotope 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 surrounding healthy cells unaffected.

ITM has exclusive access to the irradiation service provided by the IPS for the production of Lu-177 and will use the increased supply of high-quality isotopes from the IPS to meet the growing demand by physicians and patients.

In June 2018, Bruce Power and ITG - a subsidiary of ITM - signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the production of Lu-177 at Bruce, which they said has the ability to meet global supply needs until 2064.

ITM subsidiary ITM Medical Isotopes GmbH signed a supply arrangement for Lu-177 with Isogen in 2020.

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 programme that provides a direct benefit to the community.

"It is with great pride that we at Bruce Power, along with our partners at Isogen, ITM and Saugeen Ojibway Nation, celebrate the successful commencement of commercial operation of the world's first large-scale Isotope Production System for the production of lutetium-177," said Bruce Power President and CEO Mike Rencheck. "This announcement is the result of years of dedication and comes thanks to the hard work and innovative spirit of thousands of employees across this unique international partnership."

Bruce Power is one of the world's largest producers of cobalt-60 - used for the sterilisation of single-use medical equipment as well as in cancer treatments - through its partnership with Nordion.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News