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HomeNuclearFramatome, KHNP to cooperate on medical isotope production

Framatome, KHNP to cooperate on medical isotope production

18 April 2024

Framatome and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) are to assess the feasibility of producing medical isotope lutetium-177 in the Candu pressurised heavy water reactors at the Wolsong nuclear power plant in South Korea.

The signing of the MoU (Image: KHNP)

Under a memorandum of understanding signed in Paris on 17 April, Framatome and KHNP will jointly perform a technical assessment at the plant using Framatome’s isotope production technology. This technology has been successfully implemented on a commercial production level at the Bruce nuclear power plant in Ontario, Canada.

Lutetium-177 is a beta-emitting radioisotope used in targeted radionuclide therapy to treat prostate cancer by destroying cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

“Framatome has been working with KHNP for decades to support the safe, reliable and sustainable operation of its nuclear fleet,” said Catherine Cornand, Senior Executive Vice President of the Installed Base business unit at Framatome. “We are actively engaged in supporting the long-term operation of the Hanul 1 and 2 units for which Framatome is the Original Equipment Manufacturer. I am very happy to extend our cooperation through this new initiative at the Wolsong nuclear plant.”

The Wolsong plant (Image: KHNP)

“We anticipate that commercial nuclear reactors will have an increasing role to play to backup and complement research reactors in the production of cancer-fighting radioisotopes,” François Gauché, Director of Framatome Healthcare, said. “This cooperation will support the future supply chain readiness to make lutetium-177 treatments massively accessible across the world.”

“With this initiative, KHNP stays consistent with its social responsibility commitment, by supporting the development of modern nuclear medicine treatments in South Korea while continuing its contribution to stable energy supply and carbon neutrality,” said Chang Hee-Seung, Executive Vice-President, Quality and Technology Division at KHNP.

“We expect nuclear power to become a positive example of not only producing electricity but contributing to people’s health and welfare,” said KHNP CEO Hwang Joo-ho. “We will do our best to promote the project so that it can provide hope to many people fighting cancer.”

In November last year, Framatome signed a similar cooperation agreement with Romania’s Nuclearelectrica on exploring the production of the lutetium-177 at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant.

Framatome Healthcare, through its Isogen joint venture with Canada’s Kinectrics, was involved in an international collaboration with Bruce Power and ITM Isotope Technologies Munic SE to produce lutetium-177 from a commercial nuclear power reactor for the first time in October in 2022 at Bruce unit 7. Like Wolsong and Cernavoda, Bruce 7 is a Candu pressurised heavy water reactor.

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