Nuclearelectrica and Framatome in lutetium-177 agreement

30 November 2023

Romania's Nuclearelectrica and France's Framatome have signed a cooperation agreement on exploring the production of the medical isotope lutetium-177 at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant.

The agreement was signed at World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris. Framatome CEO Bernard Fontana, left, with Teodor Chirica, Nuclearelectrica chairman (Image: Nuclearelectrica)

A technical feasibility study will be conducted, based on Framatome's work on isotope production in Canada. The agreement will look at how to "maximise the existing infrastructure to convert target into medical isotopes".

Lutetium-177 is a beta-emitting radioisotope used in targeted radionuclide therapy to treat prostate cancer by destroying cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

François Gauché, Director of Framatome Healthcare, said: "We are excited about this project with Nuclearelectrica. Mass access to nuclear medicine is closely linked to the development of large scale, reliable and diversified supply chains and we want to play our part in the fight against cancer by helping build these supply chains, to better serve the patients in the future, we will need regional nuclear medicine production hubs and this project is a great opportunity to strengthen the supply chain in Europe."

Cosmin Ghita, CEO of Nuclearelectrica, said: "This partnership is a significant step to help improve the health of millions of people and demonstrate the multiple benefits of nuclear power plants, which generate clean energy, contribute to energy stability, decarbonisation and economic growth. In light of recent developments in the medical isotope market, the need for a secure supply of medical isotopes is increasing, and therefore we believe that this is the perfect time to pursue this opportunity for a medical isotope production project in CNE Cernavoda."

Framatome Healthcare, through its Isogen joint venture with Canada's Kinectrics, was involved in an international collaboration with Bruce Power and ITM Isotope Technologies Munic SE, last year to produce lutetium-177 from a commercial nuclear power reactor for the first time, at Bruce Power's Unit 7, which, like Cernavoda, is a Candu pressurised heavy water reactor.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News