Tag Archives: Medical Isotopes

Uncategorized

Nuclear researchers produce the rarest drug on Earth

In September, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and TRIUMF announced they were teaming up on the commercial production of what’s been called “the rarest drug on earth.”

Actinium-225 is an alpha-emitting isotope with a short half-life that can be combined with a protein or antibody that specifically targets cancer cells. It has shown promise in experimental uses on late stage cancer patients to kills cancer cells.

Each year, the entire world only makes an amount equal to the weight of a few grains of sand.

The TRIUMF cyclotron centre in Vancouver had been discarding substantial amounts of Ac-225 for years, unaware of its potential.

Under terms of the partnership, TRIUMF’s high energy proton beam will be used to manufacture the isotope, while CNL’s nuclear-licensed handling and production facilities will be used to process the material.

The partnership could see an increase of hundreds of thousands of treatments globally, according to Triumf.

“We are delighted to partner with CNL on this important initiative, which has the potential to transform the lives of people who suffer from untreatable cancers,” said Kathryn Hayashi, Chief Executive Officer of TRIUMF Innovations, the laboratory’s commercialization arm, in a statement.

“This agreement will allow TRIUMF to leverage one of our core assets, the 520 MeV cyclotron, and our scientists and engineers, to produce this isotope on a scale that would enable more clinical development to make treatment available for patients with a wide spectrum of cancers that we can’t fight effectively using today’s technologies.”

“With over one billion medical treatments conducted using isotopes produced at the Chalk River Laboratories, CNL has served as a global leader in nuclear medicine for decades,” said Mark Lesinski, President and CEO of CNL, in a statement. “We view this agreement with TRIUMF as a natural evolution of this work, which will require industry-tested proficiencies in target manufacturing, radiochemistry, radioisotope analysis, and nuclear and chemical by-product management.

CNL and TRIUMF also recently announced that they will co-host the 11th Targeted-Alpha-Therapy Symposium (TAT11), a global forum for academic and industry leaders to meet and discuss the latest technical, regulatory and clinical developments in targeted radiopharmaceutical therapy. The event will be held in April 2019 in Ottawa.

Uncategorized

99 uses for nuclear technology

  1. Producing clean energy
  2. Medical diagnostic procedures
  3. Radiation therapy
  4. Sterilizing medical equipment
  5. Killing bacteria, insects and parasites that cause food-borne diseases
  6. Delaying fruits and vegetables from ripening
  7. Inhibiting root vegetables from sprouting
  8. Halting meat and seafood from spoiling
  9. Producing new crop varieties
  10. Producing hardier crops
  11. The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT)
  12. Preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola, malaria and Zika
  13. Decontaminating spices
  14. Improving livestock health
  15. Improving water and fertilizer management
  16. Determining nutrient absorption rates
  17. Verifying the integrity of aircraft components
  18. Improving the reliability of automotive engines
  19. Increasing the compatibility of pacemakers with the human body
  20. Developing better delivery systems for pharmaceuticals
  21. Checking welds of gas and oil pipelines
  22. Analyzing the walls of dug holes
  23. Identifying mineral deposits
  24. Searching for underground caves or formations
  25. Verifying the integrity of roads and bridges
  26. Optimizing road life, rutting resistance and overall durability
  27. Producing safe drinking water
  28. Powering space missions
  29. Powering navigation beacons and satellites
  30. Powering ships and submarines
  31. Producing hydrogen
  32. Smoke detectors
  33. Sterilizing cosmetics and hair products
  34. Sterilizing contact lens solution
  35. Producing non-stick frying pans
  36. Preventing static build-up in photocopiers
  37. Making watches and clocks that “glow in the dark”
  38. Emergency exit signs
  39. Compact fluorescent light bulbs
  40. Increasing computer disk memory
  41. Golf balls with longer drives
  42. Lantern mantles
  43. Combating malnutrition
  44. Combating childhood obesity
  45. Analyzing metals, alloys and electronic materials
  46. Identifying extremely small and diluted forensic materials
  47. Characterizing archaeological and historical materials
  48. Carbon dating the age of rocks and organic materials
  49. Studying air pollution and aerosols
  50. Determining the origin, age and distribution of groundwater
  51. Assessing the interconnections between groundwater and surface water
  52. Understanding aquifer recharge systems
  53. Evaluating leakages through dams and irrigation channels
  54. Lake and reservoir dynamics
  55. Calculating flow and sedimentation rates
  56. Analyzing river discharges
  57. Measuring soil moisture
  58. Measuring magnitudes and sources of soil erosion
  59. Detecting and analyzing environmental pollutants
  60. Studying the mixing and flow rates of industrial material
  61. Locating leaks
  62. Measuring industrial equipment wear rates
  63. Thickness gauges for sheet material
  64. Density gauges for control of liquids, powders and solids
  65. Gauges to determine flow, level and weight
  66. X-ray fluorescent analyzers
  67. Gas chromatographs
  68. Instrument calibrators
  69. Krypton leak detectors
  70. Well logging
  71. Locating materials embedded inside others
  72. Detecting corrosion and moisture damage
  73. Measuring blood or plasma volume
  74. Quantifying bone mass
  75. Detecting changes in bone metabolism
  76. Assessing the blood flow to the brain
  77. Looking for hydrocephalus
  78. Diagnosing and following the progression of tumors or infections
  79. Evaluating how well food travels from the stomach to the intestines
  80. Finding bleeding sites within the abdomen
  81. Identifying gall bladder obstructions
  82. Evaluating the effectiveness of a perito-venous shunt
  83. Finding benign liver tumors
  84. Diagnosing cirrhosis, hepatitis, tumors and other digestive tract problems
  85. Finding blood clots in the lungs
  86. Detecting Meckel’s Diverticulum
  87. Detecting adrenal tumors or pheochromocytoma
  88. Detecting coronary artery disease
  89. Locating neuroendocrine tumors
  90. Evaluating a possible parathyroid adenoma
  91. Diagnosing stomach ulcers
  92. Studying kidney function
  93. Studying gland function
  94. Showing the direction of lymphatic drainage from cancer sites
  95. Checking for tear duct blockages
  96. Diagnosing conditions affecting the testicles
  97. Studying thyroid function
  98. Detailing the heart’s ability to pump blood
  99. Diagnosing ischemic bowel disease
Uncategorized

Bruce Power to produce Lutetium-177 for cancer therapy

In late June, Bruce Power joined forces with Isotopen Technologien München (ITM) to examine the production of the radioisotope Lutetium-177 at the Bruce Power site.

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.

According to the company, the Bruce Power site has the ability to meet global supply needs through 2064, which is the lifespan of the station after refurbishment.

Bruce Power nuclear generating station

“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,” Bruce Power CEO Mike Rencheck said via a press release.

Bruce’s CANDU reactors already produce Cobalt-60, which is used for the sterilization of medical equipment and in a specialized form of cancer treatment called the Gamma Knife.

Bruce Power is part of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC), which aims to develop collective solutions to maintain Canada’s leadership position in global isotope production. The CNA is also a member of the Council.

Uncategorized

Nuclear Technology Brings Hope to Patients

MEDICALISOTOPESSaskatchewan cancer patients have been given a new reason to be hopeful thanks to nuclear technology.

The Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon is now receiving on-site medical isotopes thanks to the Fedoruk Centre, a cyclotron and a funding partnership between the province and the feds.

A cyclotron is a particle accelerator and it uses power to make particles radioactive. When these particles collide isotopes are created.

Medical isotopes are safe radioactive particles used to diagnose health conditions.

In total, the nuclear medicine community relies on a wide suite of medical isotopes. There are approximately 200 isotopes available for use. Each isotope has its own characteristics and the ability to provide doctors with a window into what is happening inside the body.

The isotope used to help detect medical issues such as cancer and Parkinson’s through a positron emission tomography (PET)/computerized tomography (CT) scan (PET-CT).

An isotope known as fluorine-18 is attached to a tracer to make a radiopharmaceutical. It is then injected into the patient where it moves throughout the body depending on the tracer.  In Canada, PET/CT scans use the radiopharmaceutical flurodeoxyglucose (FDG).  Approximately 60 minutes after injection, the scanning part of the procedure begins.

“FDG is a sugar and the sugar is burned up by different parts of the body at different rates,” according to Dr. Neil Alexander, executive director of the Fedoruk Centre. “In nuclear medicine, particularly in diagnostics, if you have a sugar it goes around the body and anything burning up the sugar at a great rate lights up on the scan.  As one example, cancer cells burn up sugar at a greater rate than healthy cells, allowing physicians to detect cancers and see how the disease responds to treatment.”

PET/CT scans provide doctors with vital information on the location and extent of cancer within the body. The test also allows doctors to assess the success of treatments; providing patients with a better chance at survival.

Parkinson’s disease diagnosis and research is one of the newest areas for medical isotopes and PET/CT. Early diagnosis in the case of Parkinson’s is an important step to increasing knowledge on how the disease progresses and responds to therapy.  In the case of Parkinson’s patients the scan is looking for a decrease in proteins used in the synapses, or the junctions between nerve cells, in the brain.

Until the cyclotron started producing isotopes, patients requiring a scan in Saskatchewan needed isotopes flown in from Ontario and because the radioactivity is short-lived, meaning FDG cannot be stored, daily shipments were required. The challenges of early morning production added to air transportation often led to delayed starts and cancellations, providing unreliability for patients in need of medical diagnoses.

“Up until now, all of it was coming in from Hamilton and a lot of the material had decayed so they couldn’t process as many patients,” says Alexander.

Producing locally means more reliable health care for patients, cutting wait times and diagnosing more patients sooner. It also means that Saskatchewan medical researchers have a supply readily available to expand their research programs.

Uncategorized

Innovations we Need – Now, and for Generations

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

In case you missed this in the early January darkness: A Canadian team based at Vancouver-area TRIUMF has demonstrated a practical answer to the impending shortage of medical isotopes.

Technetium-99m (TC-99m), a commonly used isotope for medical imaging and diagnosis, has until now mainly been derived from molybdenum-99 from the NRU research reactor in Ontario. But the NRU is scheduled to end molybdenum production in 2016.

Industry experts were warning that this would leave global supplies of TC-99m very tight and vulnerable to shortages. But Canada’s nuclear science and technology know-how, with support from the federal government, has been working on answers. The team uses a common brand of medical cyclotron – developed and manufactured in Canada – to make TC-99m without a reactor.

Yanick Lee (right) and Ran Klein (centre) show off the Ottawa Hospital’s cyclotron.
The cyclotron at the Ottawa Hospital produces isotopes used for PET scans, which allow cardiac and cancer patients to receive precisely targeted treatments.

Nuclear technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s an integral part of our health care system, helping Canadian doctors to help their patients faster, better, and less intrusively. Not to mention an integral part of our materials science, which supports our whole manufacturing and engineering capability. Not to mention an integral part of our low-carbon, low-cost electric power supply.

Nuclear technology solves real-world problems that affect our quality of life: How long we live. How well our cars run. How safely our planes land. How affordable energy is.

As we noted in our last post, timely solutions like the isotope breakthrough may only be the tip of the iceberg compared to what nuclear innovation could bring humanity in coming decades. The world’s demand for low-carbon energy and clean air is probably the biggest single challenge we face as a species.  And it is increasingly clear that nuclear is the only minimal-carbon energy that can be there on the scale we need, when we need it.

Many reactor designs can be part of that solution, which will be global in scale. Here are some examples of CNA member organizations working in science and technology partnerships right now to make it happen:

  • Burnaby, BC-based General Fusion, which has a prototype fusion reactor, has a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, and is putting them in place with the Lawrence Berkeley National and Princeton Plasma Physics labs.
Terrestrial
Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR80.
  • Mississauga, ON-based Terrestrial Energy, which is developing integral molten salt reactors, recently announced an initial collaboration with USDOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the home of the original working MSR design.
  • CNA members GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GHNE) and Westinghouse Electric, plus Areva Federal Services, have joined with USDOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in a partnership on next-generation reactors.

National laboratories don’t form these partnerships just to make headlines. They’re looking to solve big problems. Canada and CNA members are going to be part of those answers.

Guest Blog Nuclear Medicine

The Medical Isotopes Supply Chain

Today’s post comes from guest contributor at Nordion.

Nuclear medicine is one of the most powerful analytical tools available to physicians and patients today because of its ability to provide dynamic views of organ structure and function. Medical isotopes are used to diagnose potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and to treat serious diseases such as cancer.

About one million nuclear medicine procedures are performed in Canada annually. In the U.S., there are some 18 million nuclear medicine procedures per year among 311 million people, and in Europe about 10 million among 500 million people. Canada has been one of the global leaders in the supply of medical isotopes to the world’s medical community. Tc-99m is used in about 80% of all diagnostic nuclear imaging procedures.

Medical isotopes have a short shelf life and therefore cannot be inventoried. Before they can be used in patient procedures, the materials used in nuclear medicine are developed through a multi-step supply chain process.

This graphic summarizes the process.

supply-chain-nordion_graphic-600

Watch this video to understand how medical isotopes make their complex (but necessarily quick) journey, from reactor to patient: