Framatome, KHNP to investigate producing Lu-177 in South Korea

April 19, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear News
Catherine Cornand of Framatome and Chang Hee-Seung of KHNP (center) with Framatome and KHNP employees following the signing of the MOU. (Photo: Framatome)

Framatome and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to explore the possibility of producing the medical isotope lutetium-177 at KHNP’s Wolsong nuclear power plant in South Korea. The companies also will investigate the feasibility of using the plant to support Korean production of medical radioisotopes in the future.

The details: Under the MOU, Framatome and KHNP will jointly assess the ability of Wolsong’s three-unit CANDU reactor to produce non-carrier-added Lu-177 using Framatome’s isotope production technology. The technology is already in use at the Bruce Power nuclear power plant in Canada.

The MOU is similar to one signed with Nuclearelectrica, operator of Romania’s Cernavoda nuclear power plant, in November 2023.

The isotope: Lu-177 is a beta-emitting radioisotope used in targeted radionuclide therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer and in multiple promising radiopharmaceutical developments for other cancer indications. The isotope destroys cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

In October 2022, Framatome announced it had begun the large-scale commercial production of Lu-177 as part of collaboration with Bruce Power and ITM Isotope Technologies Munich SE. The isotope is produced using the Isotope Production System, which was designed and installed in Bruce Power’s Unit 7 by Isogen, a joint venture of Framatome and Kinectrics.

They said it: “We anticipate that commercial nuclear reactors will have an increasing role to play to backup and complement research reactors in the production of cancer-fighting radioisotopes,” said François Gauché, head of Framatome Healthcare. “This cooperation will support the future supply chain readiness to make Lutetium-177 treatments massively accessible across the world.”

Hee-Seung Chang, executive vice president of the Quality and Technology Division at KHNP, added, “With this initiative, KHNP stays consistent with its social responsibility commitment, by supporting the development of modern nuclear medicine treatments in South Korea while continuing its contribution to stable energy supply and carbon neutrality.”

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