Westinghouse and TerraPower, in conjunction with Belgium’s Pan Tera, have announced plans to produce large quantities of actinium-225, a radioisotope used for targeted alpha radiation therapy for certain types of cancer.
The news closely follows Serva Energy’s announcement that it has begun producing Ac-225 with the help of the University of California–Irvine’s TRIGA reactor.
Westinghouse: On June 22, Westinghouse announced it had developed and successfully demonstrated a novel approach to produce Ac-225 radioisotopes in commercial nuclear reactors, enabling large-scale production of the isotope.
Previously, Westinghouse produced Ac-225 using proprietary targets irradiated in the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor at Pennsylvania State University. According to Tarik Choho, president of Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel, the company’s new approach can significantly increase global Ac-225 production using Westinghouse technology in reactors around the world.
Westinghouse added that it has agreements with other suppliers to produce radioisotopes such as cobalt-60 and lutetium-177 in commercial reactors. Westinghouse is establishing agreements with nuclear utility partners for radioisotope production in their operating nuclear plants and is in active discussions with radiopharmaceutical companies and other radioisotope users for large-scale production of a wider range of radioisotopes.
TerraPower and PanTera: TerraPower Isotopes, meanwhile, announced on June 26 that it has entered a strategic collaboration with PanTera, the Belgian joint venture created by SCK CEN and Ion Beam Applications, to increase the global supply of Ac-225.
TerraPower Isotopes’ process extracts Ac-225 through a natural decay method from thorium-229. PanTera, meanwhile, uses a Rhodotron accelerator to produce radium-226 through gamma irradiation. The companies will use both methods for developing Ac-225 through the collaboration agreement.
Since 2018, TerraPower has been working to increase supply of Ac-225 from Th-229 decay, which is derived from legacy U.S. nuclear material through a public-private partnership. The company said it hopes to increase the supply of the isotope by 75 to 100 times, and this collaboration with PanTera will further increase the speed and supply of Ac-225 that is available to the global pharmaceutical community.
“While continuing to prepare our unique technology for large scale production of actinium-225, we will also offer, as from 2024, the radioisotope to drug developers for their research and clinical trials, as well as for physicians for compassionate use,” said Sven Van den Berghe, PanTera’s chief executive officer. “This volume would be equivalent to 50 percent of today’s supply and underpin the wider development of these targeted alpha therapy radiopharmaceuticals as an effective treatment modality for cancer.”