Canada’s national nuclear laboratory celebrates five years of producing and shipping Actinium-225, supplies which have enabled pioneering early drug-development and research
Chalk River, ON – February 02, 2023 – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology laboratory, is celebrating a key milestone in its vision to become a world leader in the research and production of Actinium-225, a promising but very rare medical isotope. The end of 2022 marked five years since the first successful shipment of Actinium-225, and CNL has been shipping this product successfully and reliably ever since, which recently included its 100th shipment. Furthermore, CNL has realized steady progress during that same time, including establishing research-scale production facilities at the Chalk River Laboratories campus, implementing international standards to perform pre-clinical research at the site, and securing a global network of partners needed to eventually deliver a stable, commercial supply of the isotope.
International interest in the therapeutic potential of Actinium-225 to treat cancer has been rising in recent years, and CNL is recognized as one of a handful of companies in the world that could produce large quantities of the rare material. CNL is now working to position itself as a world leader and international hub for targeted alpha therapy (TAT) and for the production of the extremely rare and promising Actinium-225 isotope.
“Five years ago, we realized a major accomplishment in our goal to become a pioneer in the production of Actinium-225, and to bring hope to people around the world who suffer from untreatable cancers,” commented Joe McBrearty, CNL’s President and CEO. “Since then, I am proud to say that CNL has realized steady progress towards our vision, and today, we are one of the few companies in the world that has established a meaningful supply of radiochemical Actinium-225. Over these five years, CNL has safely completed over 100 shipments of Actinium-225 to customers around the world for studies that have advanced research in targeted alpha therapy.”
This achievement is a major step towards CNL’s larger vision for Canada’s national nuclear laboratory. CNL recently secured facility-only Good Laboratory Practice recognition for the Biological Research Facility, a designation which paves the way for CNL to conduct high quality pre-clinical studies for the radiopharmaceuticals industry. CNL also recently launched a new ‘health stream’ within its highly-successful Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative, a program that is designed to accelerate the development of targeted radiopharmaceuticals in Canada through collaborative research projects that aim to increase TAT safety and efficacy. Both of these accomplishments position CNL to advance research related to TAT and Actinium-225 on its campus and using its own materials.
As the next step in this journey, CNL is now working towards bringing in significantly larger quantities of Actinium-225 supplies in order to strengthen the supply chain for the isotope. In pursuit of this goal, CNL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ITM Isotope Technologies Munich, a leading commercial radiopharmaceutical biotech company based out of Germany. Together, CNL and ITM have the expertise and infrastructure in place to develop, produce and distribute this coveted radioisotope, and intend to leverage these capabilities to establish a stable, supply of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) Actinium-225 for the global market.
“CNL has been a reliable commercial partner to ITM, providing us with consistent shipments of the highest-quality Actinium-225, which have been used to help advance research needed to unlock the therapeutic potential of this exciting new medical isotope,” commented Steffen Schuster, CEO of ITM. “Looking to the future, ITM will continue to work together with CNL to accelerate the production and development of Actinium-225, to help bring novel cancer therapies and treatments to the international marketplace.”
An alpha-emitting isotope, Actinium-225 can be attached to a ‘disease-targeting molecule’ that is designed to seek out and bind to cancer cells. As Actinium-225 decays, it emits high-energy alpha particles that effectively kill cancer cells, leaving nearby healthy cells unharmed in the process. Collectively, this treatment is known as targeted alpha therapy, and due to its many unique attributes, Actinium-225 has been referred to as a ‘goldilocks’ isotope in nuclear medicine.
“Actinium-225 holds incredible potential as a weapon in the fight against cancer, but the limited supply has hampered the industry’s ability to advance research on Targeted Alpha Therapy and realize its full potential,” commented Ram Mullur, Vice-President of Isotopes Business at CNL. “At CNL, we have a breadth of health science laboratories, equipment and expertise to conduct research programs with Actinium-225, and these capabilities are complemented by nuclear materials, robust programs and the systems needed to handle and produce Actinium-225. Overall, CNL is uniquely positioning itself to serve as a world leader in the production of Actinium-225.”
Beyond development of the capability to produce Actinium-225 on a larger scale, CNL is leveraging its expertise in radiobiology to conduct research – including work as part of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s Federal Nuclear Science and Technology Work Plan – that examines the mechanisms of action of Actinium-225 as a cancer treatment.
To learn more about CNL, including its work in health sciences, please visit www.cnl.ca.
As Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology laboratory, and working under the direction of AECL, CNL is a world leader in the development of innovative nuclear science and technology products and services. Guided by an ambitious corporate strategy known as Vision 2030, CNL fulfills three strategic priorities of national importance – restoring and protecting the environment, advancing clean energy technologies, and contributing to the health of Canadians.
By leveraging the assets owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), CNL also serves as the nexus between government, the nuclear industry, the broader private sector and the academic community. CNL works in collaboration with these sectors to advance innovative Canadian products and services towards real-world use, including carbon-free energy, cancer treatments and other therapies, non-proliferation technologies and waste management solutions.
To learn more about CNL, please visit www.cnl.ca.
Director, Corporate Communications