Bruce Power is joining forces with Kinectrics and Framatome to advance an innovative project to enable the production of a key medical isotope used to treat prostate cancer known as Lutetium-177.

“This is a very exciting day as we mark the beginning of a new partnership that sets the groundwork for the production of an isotope that treats prostate cancer,” said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s President and CEO. “We want to ensure Canada remains at the forefront of global isotope development and production. Today’s announcement is a big step forward.”

Innovation in targeted cancer therapies is creating a significant worldwide demand for life-saving isotopes like Lutetium-177. Utilizing the reactors at Bruce Power will help to ensure that this key medical isotope will be delivered to patients in Canada and around the world, reliably and affordably.

The partnership will focus on achieving production in 2022 following regulatory and other approvals. Bruce Power will also be working with all levels of government to progress a number of strategic export and business development opportunities connected with this project to align with several key public policy areas.

The partnership will seek to leverage the multi-unit Bruce site to provide a stable, redundant supply of Lutetium-177 for many decades to come. Kinetrics and Framatome Canada Ltd. have teamed up to develop an Isotope Production System deployable on all Bruce Power units that can also support the future production of other isotopes in addition to Lutetium-177.

“This partnership is a very important and exciting opportunity for Kinectrics,” said David Harris, Kinectrics’ President and CEO. “We are looking forward to working with our partners, Bruce Power and Framatome, to produce new life-saving medicine. This business venture will create many new opportunities for our companies, jobs across the province, and high-tech export sales for Canada.”

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.

“Framatome is proud to join forces with Bruce Power and Kinectrics to produce and deliver medical isotopes that treat cancer, and further supports Canada’s leadership in isotope development,” said Bernard Fontana, CEO of Framatome. “This agreement builds on our long-lasting commitment to Bruce Power, and we are pleased to mobilize our world-wide expertise for advancements in the medical sector.”

Christine Hogarth, MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, praised the new partnership as an example of Ontario-based businesses achieving success through innovation.

“This exciting partnership exemplifies Ontario’s Open for Business mantra, while contributing to an integrated system of care for cancer patients in Ontario and around the world.” said Hogarth. “Leveraging existing infrastructure and expertise in Ontario, and right here in Etobicoke, will help keep hospitals clean and safe while expanding Ontario’s leadership role in the global community by supporting new and innovative patient treatments.”

Lutetium-177 is used in Targeted Radionuclide Therapy to treat cancers like neuroendocrine tumours and prostate cancer. Medical-grade Lutetium is used to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected. Bruce Power is also a significant source of Cobalt-60 used for the sterilization of medical equipment around the world as well as a specialized form of cancer treatment called the Gamma Knife.

“An average of 11 men die from prostate cancer every day. We’re working with our partners to change that statistic, developing innovative radioisotope treatments,” says Peter Coleridge, President and CEO, Prostate Cancer Canada. “Radioisotopes play a crucial role from diagnosis to treating advanced forms of the disease for which there is no cure. That’s why we’re excited about new treatments in the pipeline that are giving men and their families hope for the future. Together, we can save and improve more lives.”

Bruce Power is a founding member of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC), which will ensure Canada remains a world leader in the production of life-saving radioisotopes by raising awareness and supporting long-term policies at the domestic and international level. Over 30 leading organizations from Canada and around the world have joined the council, which will develop collective solutions to maintain Canada’s leadership position on the global isotope stage.

“Canadian researchers and radioisotope producers are working together to deliver innovative new therapies to clinics, and Canada’s supply of these critical isotopes is important to new clinical trials and to increasing approved therapies,” said James Maloney, MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. “Together all three companies will help to ensure Canada is a leading force in global science, while generating tremendous economic and societal benefits for all Canadians.”

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.