The reliable supply of critical medical isotopes has been challenged in recent years due to unexpected and extended shutdowns of reactor and processing facilities. Replacement of these reactors is unlikely due to high capital, operating and waste management costs.
The CIIC production method is cost competitive (capital and operating costs are a fraction of the cost of the nuclear reactor facilities), dependable (possible to have several facilities to reduce risk of unplanned shutdown), scalable (geographically distributed facilities to reduce shipping costs and losses, or facilities can have multiple linear accelerators to create economies of scale) and requires few regulatory hurdles.
Radioisotopes are a key component of nuclear medicine. Nuclear medicine uses radioisotopes to provide information about the functioning of specific organs, or to treat disease. Radioisotopes allow physicians to diagnose a variety of ailments, including issues with thyroid, bones, heart, liver and many other organs. In some cases, radioisotopes can be used to treat diseased organs, or tumours.
1. Copper 67 (Cu 67) is an emerging radioisotope used for therapy. Cancerous growths are sensitive to damage by radiation. For this reason, some cancerous growths can be controlled or eliminated by irradiating the area containing the growth. The radioisotope that generates the radiation can be localized in the required organ in the same way as for diagnosis – through a radioisotope following its usual biological path, or through the isotope being attached to a suitable biological compound.
2. Technetium-99 (Tc-99m) is the most common radioisotope used in diagnosis procedures. Radioisotopes are an essential part of medical diagnostic procedures. In combination with imaging devices which detect the gamma rays emitted by the isotopes, they can study the dynamic processes taking place in various parts of the body. Over 10,000 hospitals worldwide use them daily. 90% of the isotopes are used for diagnosis.
Currently, most radioisotopes are produced using nuclear reactors, which comes with many security, supply, and environmental concerns. In other cases, neither cyclotrons nor reactors can provide the isotope in a sufficiently pure form for practical applications. Thus, although the isotopes may have many desirable characteristics for therapy applications, little work has been done because of the lack of availability in a high purity form.
For example, Cu-67 is an isotope that researchers have identified as having good characteristics for a cancer therapy isotope.
Unlike current reactor-based isotopes, our production process creates minimal nuclear by-products, and much of the parent atoms and materials can be recycled to be used again, eliminating waste.
A high energy electron beam from a linear accelerator hits a dense target producing high energy x-rays. These x-rays then strike atoms of a second target transforming some of the target atoms to the desired isotope. After continuing this bombardment for some time, typically a few hours to days, the irradiated targets are then processed to extract the desired isotope in a form that CIIC distributes to radiopharmacies and nuclear medicine clinics. There the isotopes are attached to drugs to form the radiopharmaceuticals for specific diagnostic tests or cancer therapies.
CIIC has created an innovative, clean and safe method to produce medical radioisotopes. The approach is trailblazing and responsive to global trends on production technologies, customer preferences, and governmental decisions that are pushing medical isotope production away from using reactors.
To this day, the world’s supply of radioisotopes is produced in a handful of unreliable nuclear reactors. Our innovation is creating a new radioisotope production process that is clean, reliable, diversified, and easily scalable, using a linear accelerator, often referred to as a LINAC, is a particle accelerator that fires electrons, neutrons, or protons in a straight line.
CIIC was able to achieve this by commercializing state-of-the-art research and technology created by the team, at the Canadian Light Source (CLS). Our proprietary LINAC technology and production methods were developed with the support of the Government of Canada and Province of Saskatchewan.
CIIC’s approach has many advantages:
– Uses existing, proven technologies for irradiation and processing;
– Scalable, from a regional single accelerator installation to globally distributed, multi-location facilities;
– Easier licensing and lower costs permit construction close to clients, reducing product decay loss and logistics issues;
– No uranium and little radioactive waste results in low security, storage and remediation costs;
– Facility licensing is much easier with costs much lower than for reactors; and
– A fully integrated supply chain allows for excellent costs control.
Our proprietary solution can produce pure Cu-67 and Mo-99 at a lower cost per dose than competing technologies, due to lower distribution and processing costs. Furthermore, our production facilities are more easily scalable than reactors and more supply can be brought online to meet growing world demand.
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