AECL has entered into a commercial agreement with Biocompatibles UK Ltd, a BTG International group company, to utilize a facility at the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River Laboratories. BTG is a UK-based specialist healthcare company. The agreement is structured to employ service irradiations in the NRU using the Hydraulic Capsule Facility (HCF) to activate BTG’s TheraSphere product for medical therapeutic use. TheraSphere® is a liver cancer therapy that consists of millions of small glass microspheres (20 to 30 micrometers in diameter) containing radioactive Yttrium-90. The product is injected by physicians into the artery of the patient's liver through a catheter, which allows the treatment to be delivered directly to the tumour via blood flow. TheraSphere® has been approved for use in the European Union and in Canada for the treatment of ‘hepatic neoplasia’ (the abnormal proliferation of benign or malignant cells in the liver) as well as other human health therapies in the United States. This is an important step towards expanding third party use of NRU’s tremendous irradiation capacity, and is fully aligned with AECL’s Strategic Initiative to stimulate business innovation and deliver services to third parties on a commercial basis. The agreement calls for use of a number of Hydraulic Capsule Facility locations in the NRU reactor on a routine basis to the end of the current licence period.
Much more than isotopes, the National Research Universal reactor (NRU) is Canada’s only major materials and fuel testing reactor used to support and advance the CANDU design.