Soon there will be new treatments for metastatic prostate cancer available, based on the nuclear medicine PSMA linked to the radioisotope Lu-177. As prostate is a common disease, the use of this isotope will increase spectacularly.
The Netherlands Cancer Institute and NRG have jointly published an article in which they describe which treatments with Lu-177 are currently being developed around the world. The article in the European Journal for Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging shows that even if only a few of these developments turn out to be successful, new treatments will soon be available for a large number of patients. This is a great success within nuclear medicine, to which the Netherlands has made a major contribution. Dutch hospitals have pioneered the development of medicine based on Lu-177 and the production of Lu-177 has started at NRG.
This development implies that in the future the Lu-177 production needs to be increased strongly. At the moment Lu-177 is produced in reactors such as the High Flux Reactor in Petten. But one might wonder if it can be done differently: for example, for the production of Mo-99, another important isotope, alternative techniques are in development. A good reason why the article discusses possible alternatives for producing Lu-177 as well. Not only accelerators and reactors are being assessed, but also ‘accelerator-driven reactors’ and even nuclear power plants are included into the analysis.
The conclusion is that the production of Lu-177 can be competitive in research reactors only. Therefore, these are essential in the upscaling of the Lu-177 production and confirms the great value of research reactors in the world of nuclear medicine.
Nuclear medicine based on Lu-177 are booming. Reactors are and will be necessary to produce Lu-177.
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