Production of cancer-fighting nuclear isotopes at Darlington earns praise from Clarington Mayor

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Published March 12, 2024 at 3:03 pm

Darlington Nuclear isotope announcement
Mississauga Centre MPP Natalia Kusendova (left); Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster; Boston Scientific President of Interventional Oncology Peter Pattison, Laurentis Energy Partners CEO Jason Van Wart; Ontario’s Minister of Energy Todd Smith; Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones; Director of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Keith Stewart; and Dr. Jonathan W. Cirtain, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer at BWX Technologies Inc.

A new targeted delivery system at Darlington Nuclear that will produce a nuclear medical isotope to treat liver cancer in patients around the world has earned praise from Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster, who said the municipality has become a “centre for nuclear expertise” in Canada.

“We are thrilled that another critical medical isotope will now be produced right here at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, helping to make life-saving cancer treatments more easily available to those who need them,” Foster said. “With this expansion of the isotope industry, Darlington is playing a critical role in saving lives both at home and globally.”

Ontario Power Generation subsidiary Laurentis Energy Partners and its partners will produce the Yttrium-90, or Y-90 isotope at Darlington, which will convert the radioactive raw material into a cancer-fighting drug called TheraSphere, which is currently manufactured in Ontario using an imported supply of isotopes.

Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster

Y-90 isotope, which can be produced while the unit is generating clean energy, will be used as a targeted radiation therapy to destroy liver cancer cells and shrink tumours, ultimately extending the survival of patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma, the most common type of primary liver cancer.

The TheraSphere drug enables targeted and personalized liver cancer therapy using millions of microscopic, irradiated Y-90 glass microspheres, to target tumors with a high dose of radiation without affecting other healthy parts of the body.

TheraSphere is also in early-stage clinical trials to treat glioblastoma, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer from which more than 90 per cent of patients die within five years of diagnosis.

The company has been at the delivery system testing stage for the isotopes – which have been produced at Darlington since early last year – and is now ready for commercial production.

“Laurentis will provide a critical supply of made-in-Ontario Y-90 to the world,” said company CEO Jason Van Wart at a new conference last week at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital. “As a company with experience, expertise and cutting-edge technology at our fingertips, we have a responsibility to advance the production of life-saving isotopes for the global medical community.”

Laurentis’ proprietary delivery system (installed in Darlington’s #2 reactor) was developed in partnership with Ottawa-area companies BWXT Medical and Boston Scientific. Pending regulatory approvals, Laurentis expects to begin producing the Y-90 isotope commercially by mid-2025.

The initiative is another feather in the cap of Clarington and Darlington’s growing bona fides in the nuclear industry, noted Foster.

“Clarington has earned its reputation as a leader in clean energy. We are the proud host of cutting-edge technologies at every stage of the nuclear lifecycle,” he said. “Investments like this help drive economic growth and job creation in Clarington and position us as a growing hub for nuclear technologies that will benefit people today and into the future.

“I am delighted to welcome BWXT Medical and Boston Scientific to the Clarington community.

According to the Canadian Liver Foundation, liver cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide and it’s estimated to affect 4,700 Canadians, with the diagnosis leading to fatalities in about three-quarters of those suffering with the disease.

The target delivery system for producing medical isotopes at Darlington Nuclear

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