Agreements signed to advance Ontario-based solution to meet global health needs

Two partnership agreements signed today will advance an Ontario-based solution to deliver a stable global supply of life-saving medical isotopes from Bruce Power’s nuclear facility. This leverages the infrastructure work underway at Bruce Power to extend the life of the facility and its existing capability producing isotopes for use in health care around the world through 2064.  

The agreements, signed at Kinectrics with Ontario Premier Doug Ford in attendance, involved Bruce Power, Kinectrics, Framatome and ITM, a biotechnology and radiopharmaceutical group of companies based in Munich with a global network of radiopharmaceutical production facilities. 

This partnership of Ontario-based and international firms will establish the province as a leading global hub for medical isotopes including research, development, production, processing and export. Existing Ontario-based facilities from the partners in Tiverton, Teeswater and Toronto will be used to support this work.

“Ontario has been a worldwide leader in the production of life-saving, cancer-fighting isotopes and our nuclear industry is making sure that we maintain that role for years to come,” said Premier Doug Ford. “I am very proud to see that this important work that is being done right here in Etobicoke and I’d like to congratulate Kinectrics, Bruce Power, Framatome and ITG for signing this ground-breaking agreement.”

This new partnership, in conjunction with Bruce Power’s Life Extension program, helps to create a framework for isotope production until 2064, which is the expected life of the Bruce Power site following its Life Extension Program launched in 2016 which remains on time and on budget. 

Pending regulatory and other approvals, the isotope production system for n.c.a Lutetium-177 is expected to begin production in 2022. The isotope is used in targeted radionuclide therapy for the treatment of a growing variety of cancers such as prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumours. The medical-grade isotope is used to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected. On average, 11 Canadian men die from prostate cancer every day. 

“These agreements allow us to take the next step forward in providing life-saving isotopes,” said Mike Rencheck, Executive President and CEO at Bruce Power. “Through our partnership with Kinectrics, Framatome and ITM, we look forward to becoming part of a global network providing n.c.a. Lutetium-177 to a growing number of cancer patients worldwide.”

Using ITM’s unique manufacturing methodology, the production of the medical isotope non-carrier-added (n.c.a.) Lutetium-177 (177Lu) / EndolucinBeta® by irradiating Ytterbium-176, will be established at Bruce Power. N.c.a. Lutetium-177 is a highly pure therapeutic precursor, which is successfully applied in Targeted Radionuclide Therapy.

“We are pleased to see the progression of our common goal with Bruce Power and its partners Framatome and Kinectrics to produce our therapeutic no-carrier-added Lutetium-177 in North America,” said Steffen Schuster, CEO of ITM. “The qualified expertise of our partners Bruce Power, Framatome and Kinectrics will enable the fastest route in providing our no-carrier-added Lutetium-177 to cancer patients in North America and help secure the supply of high-quality medical radioisotopes for Targeted Radionuclide Therapy to cancer patients worldwide.”

“Kinectrics is proud to support the Ontario-based supply of this lifesaving Isotope Lutetium-177.  With our partner Framatome, we will design, supply and license the isotope production system enabling large-scale production of Lu-177 to meet future market demand. This is a very exciting business opportunity for Kinectrics, building on our licensing, engineering, and active materials handling capabilities.”  

“Bruce Power’s unwavering commitment to life-saving isotope development expands Framatome’s innovation and expertise in nuclear technologies, as we join forces with Bruce Power, Kinectrics and ITM in the fight against cancer,” said Bernard Fontana, CEO of Framatome. “Our contribution in developing and delivering Lutetium-177 medical isotopes not only transforms medical treatments for cancer patients worldwide, it strengthens Canada’s position as a global leader in the production of medical isotopes for the advancement of human health.”

Earlier this year, Bruce Power and ITM completed a successful feasibility study that concluded that Bruce Power and its partners Framatome and Kinectrics, following regulatory and other approvals, are uniquely positioned to fulfil the necessary requirements to establish isotope delivery units at the Bruce Power reactors for the subsequent production of ITM’s n.c.a. Lutetium-177. The study examined factors such as technical, medical and nuclear regulatory requirements, radiation protection and waste management. It also verified the specific requirements of compatibility with ITM’s target and processing technology. 

For more than 60 years, Canada has been a leader globally in the research, development and production of medical isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals. This has meant that Canada has been a global leader in the fight against cancer and keeping our hospitals clean and safe. The world has always counted on Canada and this partnership will help ensure we continue and expand on this leadership position. 

More than 40 per cent of all single-use medical devices produced globally are sterilized with Cobalt-60. More than half of the global supply is produced within Ontario from the Bruce Power and Pickering reactors. When including additional supply from global sources, Canada refines more than 90 per cent of the Cobalt-60 market globally.

How it works:

  • An Isotope Production System on a Bruce Power unit can be used to turn targets into medical isotopes through a process referred to as irradiation. This is a similar process utilized by Bruce Power in the production of Cobalt-60.
  • Lutetium-177 is made by irradiating a stable isotope, Ytterbium-176.
  • The Ytterbium-176 is sealed in special containers and placed in the reactor for about two weeks and then it is sent for processing and distribution to health care facilities.
  • Each container may contain enough Lutetium-177 isotope for about 200 patient treatments.
  • The production of Lutetium-177 does not generate any nuclear waste as all the materials are either used for treatment of patients or are recycled to be used to produce more of the isotope.
  • ITM will deliver Ytterbium-176 targets to the irradiation site, while Framatome and Kinectrics will be responsible for handling and preparing the Ytterbium-176 targets according to ITM requirements.