Bruce Power and IsoGen, an Ontario-based joint venture between Kinectrics and Framatome Canada, are celebrating together the achievement of critical milestones on the path to producing new life-saving medical isotopes in support of the global fight against cancer.
Bill Walker, the Associate Minister of Energy and MPP, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, and company representatives from Framatome, Bruce Power, and Kinectrics recently toured the state-of-the-art Framatome engineering facility in Kincardine. The facility is the site of design and construction of the Isotope Production System which will be installed in Bruce Power’s nuclear units to first produce Lutetium-177 (Lu-177) and then other medical isotopes, with isotope production starting in 2022 following regulatory and other approvals. ITM is the exclusive partner which manufactures Lu-177, based on targets irradiated by Bruce Power and Isogen.
Medical isotopes are increasingly being used in innovative applications as targeted therapies in the treatment of cancers, as well as a tool in the sterilization of medical equipment to help protect front line healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Leveraging investments being made at the Bruce Power site, the nuclear industry in Ontario will help ensure a steady supply of these essential healthcare tools for decades to come.
Associate Minister Walker offered his praise for the facility and the innovative partnership. “This partnership between Isogen and Bruce Power to collaborate on isotope production is a demonstration of the power of Ontario business to deliver innovative opportunities for economic growth and the benefits of Ontario’s nuclear industry,” Walker said. “The partnership will not only help to expand Canada’s leadership role in the global isotope community by supporting new and innovative cancer treatments, but also demonstrates a commitment to made-in-Ontario solutions to achieving our collective goals in healthcare.”
Mike Rencheck, President and CEO of Bruce Power, credited the Isotope Production System as the key to unlocking Bruce Power’s potential in the isotope space.
“The innovative technology being deployed in our newly-designed Isotope Production System is a game-changer that will enable medical advancements by creating a large scale access to production. This new, large-scale capacity and redundancy of isotope production can improve global access to existing and new radioisotopes in the fight against cancer and other diseases,” Rencheck said. “Bruce Power is proud to continue to build on the innovative nuclear cluster that is forming in our region, anchored by the Nuclear Innovation Institute and based on the economic and technology development initiatives stemming from our important life-extension work that is taking place on our site.”
The eight-unit Bruce Power facility is using existing nuclear assets to produce isotopes, while remaining a key part of Ontario’s low-cost energy future.
“Bruce Power is in the unique position to leverage our units to generate low-cost, reliable and clean electricity for families and businesses, and also offer innovative solutions in providing the global health community with access to isotopes that are critical to a modern health care system and in the fight against cancer,” said Rencheck.
Construction began in January of a dedicated mock-up of the Isotope Production System which will be deployed to Bruce Power’s units to produce Lutetium-177, and is currently in its final phase of engineering, testing, and design. The system is Ontario-designed and manufactured and will offer flexibility in function, supporting the future production of other isotopes in addition to Lutetium-177 in order to leverage the Bruce Power site to provide a stable, redundant supply of many medical isotopes for decades to come.
“We continue to fulfill our commitment to advance isotope production with the completion of this critical milestone,” said Curtis Van Cleve, CEO and President of Framatome Canada Ltd. “The mock-up will allow us to test and validate the system, equipment and process before we take the next step in this journey toward a supply of medical isotopes that is reliable and consistent. The community of suppliers and local stakeholders who also support this mission are integral to our success.”
Once the mock-up Isotope Production System has been fully tested and engineering is complete – projected for this fall – the facility will transition to building systems for use in Bruce Power’s reactors and will also serve as a training site for employees. The system will begin with production of Lu-177, which is used for the treatment of prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumors. The isotope allows for targeted and precise treatments, destroying cancer cells while limiting damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs.
Bruce Power has partnered with Saugeen Ojibway Nation on the isotope project. The collaboration will involve Bruce Power and SON jointly marketing new isotopes in support of the global fight against cancer while also working together in creating new economic opportunities within the SON territory by establishing new isotope infrastructure.
“The advancement of the Lutetium-177 project sends a strong message across Canada and the world that we are committed to doing our part in the in the fight against cancer,” said James Scongack, Chair of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council. “We are proud of the innovative work being done by Canadian companies in expanding Canada’s leadership role in the growing global medical isotope supply chain.”
You can learn more about how Bruce Power is helping to keep hospitals safe, and also diagnosing and treating cancer, in this video or by going to www.brucepower.com/isotopes-and-medical-innovation/.