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A proud history and a bright future

For 75 years, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has been at the forefront of innovation in nuclear medicine, radiopharmaceuticals, and low dose radiation research.  In the 1950’s we launched the medical isotope industry that revolutionized the way we treat modern diseases. We lead the world in the production of Cobalt-60 and Molydenum-99 — both crucial radiopharmaceuticals in our collective effort to save lives, fight disease and beat cancer.

Together, we’ve changed the lives of millions of people around the world.

And now, we are about to do it again.

Actinium: A new weapon in the fight against cancer

Some of the world’s top scientists at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories: the development of advanced life-saving treatments that harness the power of nuclear science and radioisotopes to achieve unprecedented levels of precision in beating cancer.

This work includes production of a promising new weapon in the fight against cancer – Actinium-225 – a radioisotope so rare that the annual global production amounts to less than a single grain of sand.  In targeted alpha therapies, the Actinium 225 isotope is attached to an antibody, which then locks on to the antigen on the cancer cell. When the isotope decays, it emits high-energy alpha particles that kill the cancer cell by shattering its DNA. The healthy cells nearby are unharmed by this process.

Our work in this area enables CNL and others around to world to carry out the critical trials and research needed to make this promising new medicine into a real possibility.

  • Jeff Griffin

    Our work at CNL with actinium-225 is two-fold: we’ve launched a production program to produce larger quantities of this isotope enabling further research and testing, but we’re also conducting foundational research to help accelerate the development of medical applications that can truly unlock its potential.

    - Jeff Griffin, Vice-President, Science & Technology

Health Sciences

CNL maintains diverse capabilities in areas of health and dosimetry services, including animal studies, isotope production and processing, targeted radionuclide therapies, ISO-accredited Analytical Chemistry services and waste management solutions. CNL is committed to improving the health of the world’s population through its work in the Health sector.

CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) is a leader in the industry; a full service nuclear laboratory with the capability to perform cutting-edge pharmaceutical development, along with a wide range of radiochemical analyses. CNL’s health sciences facilities are staffed by an expert multi-discipline team of researchers and technologists.

To learn more about CNL’s capabilities and facilities, please select one of the below areas:

Biological Research Facility

Biological Research Facility (BRF) plays a key role in proving and improving the standards for radiation safety and worker protection across the nuclear industry. The BRF conducts radiological research using live biological specimens and cell cultures.

Radiobiology and Radiochemistry

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is perhaps best known for supplying the nuclear medicine industry with radioisotopes for over six decades. What you may not know is that CNL’s researchers also perform cutting-edge research in isotope processing, purification and radiolabelling, targeted radionuclide therapies, internal dosimetry, stem cell technology, and the effects of low-dose radiation.

Shielded Facilities

CNL has provided post-irradiation examination and testing of irradiated materials. Its shielded facilities provide a comprehensive set of capabilities, from material handling and sample preparation, to microscopic examination/analysis, bulk chemical and surface analysis, plus a range of mechanical testing capabilities.

Past projects include:

  • Collaborative projects with Canadian researchers to help improve understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, and athlerosclerosis.
  • Understanding the cancer and non-cancer risks from exposure to high-dose radiation.

  • Models for predicting radiation exposure for mission planning aboard the International Space Station.
  • Studies on cell survival in tumor cells and xenografts exposed to single and fractionated doses of X-rays.
  • Measuring DNA damage and repair in mouse splenocytes after chronic in vivo exposure to very low doses of beta and gamma radiation

Why CNL?

Canada has a long history of leadership in nuclear medicine. As a world leader in the production of medical isotopes, CNL is experienced in producing medical radioisotopes at a commercial scale, manufacturing and irradiating targets, separating isotopes, and managing waste. In parallel, CNL has unique capabilities in conducting pre-clinical studies and understanding the effects of radiation and radionuclides on living things.

CNL aims to become a strong player in the international R&D efforts around, and a key supplier of, alpha-emitting isotopes. Research activities  have been underway for decades, though an international scarcity of key nuclides for this research severely restricts clinical trials, which delays the deployment of effective treatments.

CNL has the necessary expertise in isotope separation, experience in scale-up of processing and handling radionuclides, as well as specialized facilities capable of safely processing alpha-emitting isotopes.