A collaboration between Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) and Bruce Power to create new infrastructure to supply the world with medical isotopes
The Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) and Bruce Power have entered into a new collaboration agreement to jointly market new isotopes in support of the global fight against cancer while also focusing on creating new economic opportunities within the SON Territory by establishing new isotope infrastructure.
The agreement will leverage a project announced by Bruce Power, Kinetrics and Framatome to produce Lutetium-177, which is used to treat prostate cancer, with production starting in 2022 following regulatory and other approvals.
By working together on the Lutetium project, Bruce Power and SON will engage together on marketing and collaboration, while working jointly with the Ontario and federal governments to leverage this historic opportunity and create sustainable economic benefits.
The project will deliver benefits beyond the local community, including the reduction of barriers to economic self-sufficiency, improving the socioeconomic circumstances of SON members, as well as having a positive international impact on treating cancer.
We believe this partnership is the first step in a new relationship that will create mutually shared benefits. The project will contribute resources to the world’s health care system. It is a project that the people of SON support. It is a project that would benefit Canadians through its contributions to the health care system, the creation of jobs, advancing innovation, and giving a boost to the economy.
Bruce Power and SON have been exploring this opportunity to work together for several months. This agreement followed extensive dialogue and community engagement sessions in June and July at both Saugeen First Nation and the Nawash Unceded First Nation.
A historic partnership
The SON is comprised of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and the Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation. The SON people are among the Anishinaabek people of the Great Lakes region. The SON represents the Indigenous Peoples of the Anishinaabe-aki or Anishinaabekiing, or what is known today as the Bruce and Grey region.
Formed in 2001, Bruce Power is an electricity company based in Bruce County, Ontario. Bruce Power is powered by 4,200 employees and is proud of the role they play in safely delivering clean, reliable, low-cost nuclear power to families and businesses across the province. As the only private nuclear company in Ontario, and one of Canada’s most successful public-private partnerships, Bruce Power provides a source of low-cost, stable electricity. The company generates 30 per cent of Ontario’s electricity at 30 per cent less than the average cost to generate residential power – today and for years to come while generating no carbon emissions and producing medical isotopes that help to save millions of lives worldwide each year.
How isotopes fight cancer
Many people have heard about medical isotopes, but they may not understand what they are, where they come from, or how they are used. What we do know is that Canada is a world leader in the production of isotopes. They are used as a key tool in the fight against cancer, helping patients all over the world who are battling the disease.
From the first discovery of isotopes about a century ago, scientists have studied their benefits. Today, they impact industry, agriculture, archaeology, mining, power generation, and medicine. They have a prominent place in today’s world. All matter in the universe is comprised of elements, made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. Isotopes have extra neutrons which can make them unstable, causing them to give off energy. Those energized radioisotopes can occur naturally, or be created artificially by irradiating a stable element in a particle accelerator or a nuclear reactor like the ones at Bruce Power.
Bruce Power is now working in partnership with Framatome Canada Ltd. and Kinectrics to use Bruce Power’s CANDU reactors to create the medical isotope Lutetium-177. The radioactive Lutetium-177 binds to a molecule that attaches itself to the diseased cells to destroy them. It has achieved success in inducing long-term remission in some prostate cancer patients.
Bruce Power and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation have also partnered on the project to make this a reality. We are working with Governments to explore the potential of these and other isotopes to help defeat cancer. Isotopes are critical in the global fight against cancer. Bruce Power is deeply committed to its role as a reliable source of essential medical isotopes, with redundancy of supply and eight units with a life extending through 2064.
We will continue to be leaders in innovation, working with our partners to do more. We all play a role in fighting cancer. We are united in the fight against cancer. By all of us doing our part, we can and will make a difference.
Canada has recognized the nuclear industry as part of a balanced, clean supply mix that is acknowledged internationally for its safe production of carbon-free electricity. Canada is also home to many globally respected health care institutions, suppliers of important technologies and support services. By using nuclear reactors and expanding the production of radioisotopes, Bruce Power will continue to keep the country at the forefront of innovations that save lives, improve quality of life and invest in our economy.
Lutetium-177 & Production
Prostate tumors are marked by something called PSMA, which stands for prostate-specific membrane antigen, a protein that sits on the surface of the cancer cell. That’s important because it means that PSMA can serve as a marker or identifier for prostate cancer cells — a big red X marking the spot, so to speak.
When Lu-177 is attached to a small molecule called 617 — the PSMA-seeking missile. The duo is then injected into the bloodstream of men with metastatic prostate cancer.
PSMA is a type of protein located on the surface of a cell and is naturally found on the prostate gland. In someone with prostate cancer, an increased amount of PSMA cell surface receptor is present. If the prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body (i.e. metastasised) the PSMA will also appear in those areas. Lutetium-177 PSMA Therapy uses a molecule which attaches itself to the PSMA receptors on the cancer cells. Before it is administered, the PSMA molecule is bound with Lutetium-177, which emits beta radiation, a destructive type of radiation that damages the cancer cells when it is in close proximity to them. Over time, it destroys the prostate cancer cells. The PSMA molecule acts as a means of transporting the radiation to the tumour site, so that the whole body does not get exposed to the radiation.
“An average of 11 Canadian men die from prostate cancer every day. We’re working with our partners to change that statistic, developing innovative radioisotope treatments,” says Peter Coleridge, President and CEO, Prostate Cancer Canada. “Radioisotopes play a crucial role from diagnosis to treating advanced forms of the disease for which there is no cure. That’s why we’re excited about new treatments in the pipeline that are giving men and their families hope for the future. Together, we can save and improve more lives.”
An Isotope Production System on a Bruce Power unit can be used to turn targets into medical isotopes through a process referred to as irradiation. This is a similar process undertaken used by Bruce Power in the production of Cobalt-60.
Lutetium-177 is made by irradiating a stable isotope, Ytterbium-176.
The Ytterbium-176 is sealed in special containers and placed in the reactor for about two weeks and then sent for processing and distribution to health care facilities.
Each container may contain enough Lutetium-177 isotopes for about 200 patient treatments.
The production of Lutetium-177 does not generate any nuclear waste as all the materials are either used for treatment of patients or are recycled to be used to produce more of the isotope.
By developing and utilizing an isotope delivery system specifically designed for CANDU reactors, this will allow neutron activation of different materials to produce medical radioisotopes. The delivery system would be used to introduce targets to the high neutron flux in the reactor core to produce the desired irradiated product. This will be a novel and innovative approach to research and development using infrastructure and operations to support the growing demand for radioisotopes in medicine and research.
There is a gap today in our national infrastructure around that supply which needs to be closed for us to retain our strategic and economic advantage in this innovative field. This project will expand our role and secure our position as a global leader for the future.
Saugeen Ojibway Nation and Bruce Power forge new partnership to collaborate on life-saving medical isotopes
The Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) and Bruce Power have entered into a collaboration agreement to jointly market new isotopes in support of the global fight against cancer while also working together on creating new economic opportunities within the SON territory by establishing new isotope...read more