South Korean Nuclear Power Plant Will Assess Feasibility of Medical Isotope Production

Framatome and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to demonstrate the feasibility of producing non-carrier added lutetium-177, a medical isotope used for a variety of lifesaving cancer treatments, at the Wolsong nuclear power plant in South Korea.

Under this MoU, 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 Power nuclear power plant in Canada.

“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,” said François Gauché, head of Framatome Healthcare. “This cooperation will support the future supply chain readiness to make lutetium-177 treatments massively accessible across the world.”

Through this agreement—similar to one recently announced by Framatome and Nuclearelectrica in Romania—the two companies will look at the feasibility of using the CANDU reactor at Wolsong to support Korean production of lifesaving radioisotopes in the future.

“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 (Figure 1), executive vice president of KHNP’s Quality and Technology division.

1. Catherine Cornand of Framatome and Chang Hee-Seung of KHNP display the agreement, with a group of Framatome and KHNP employees in the background, following the signing of the MoU. Courtesy: Framatome

“Framatome has been working with KHNP for decades to support the safe, reliable, and sustainable operation of its nuclear fleet. We are actively engaged in supporting the long-term operation of the Hanul 1 and 2 plants for which Framatome is the original equipment manufacturer,” declared Catherine Cornand, senior executive vice president of the Installed Base business unit at Framatome. “I am very happy to extend our cooperation through this new initiative at the Wolsong nuclear plant.”

Lutetium-177 is a beta-emitting radioisotope used in targeted radionuclide therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer and in multiple promising radiopharmaceutical developments for other cancer indications. The isotope destroys cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected. Framatome’s proprietary isotope production technology enabled the first large-scale commercial production of lutetium-177 in a power reactor in October 2022.

Framatome Healthcare is committed to developing products and services for the healthcare industry. Its team supports the value chain for the radioisotopes used in radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic imaging and therapeutic purposes, supplies special alloys for the development of surgical implants and prostheses, and provides advanced solutions for complex sterilization facilities essential for the use of medical materials. Framatome Healthcare’s experts advance the fight against cancer and develop and support medical applications of nuclear technology.

POWER edited this content, which was contributed by Framatome’s media relations department.

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