McMaster University and Promation – a leading Canadian manufacturer in the nuclear, automotive and industrial sectors – have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together to bring a new medical isotope technology developed at McMaster to the marketplace.

At the center of this collaboration is a new technology for producing lutetium-177 (Lu-177), an increasingly sought-after medical isotope. Clinical trials have shown that Lu-177-based drugs have tremendous potential for treating a wide range of cancers, creating global demand for this isotope.

Traditional routes to Lu-177 use a technique called chromatography to convert crude Lu-177 “targets” from high powered nuclear research reactors into clinical quality material.

The proprietary new method developed at McMaster can process much lower grade targets into clinical grade Lu-177, including material generated at medium flux research reactors like McMaster’s, not just high flux research reactors. Deployment of McMaster’s separation technology will enable expansion and diversification of the supply chain for this essential medical isotope.

This high-efficiency process generates higher yields of medical isotope and lower waste volumes than the industry standard, enabling more patient treatments and a lower environmental footprint for each target processed.

Karen Mossman, McMaster’s vice-president of research, says this exciting development is another example of McMaster’s ability to transfer its innovative technologies to those who can put it to its best use.

“Translating research results into real-world deliverables is one of our key strengths,” she says. “By partnering with Promation, we will be able to mobilize a made-in-Ontario solution to a global problem: the need for improved access to Lu-177.”

The partnership brings together two groups of experts with complementary skills. McMaster is widely recognized for its expertise in developing and commercializing medical isotope-based technologies, and is the world’s largest producer of two cancer-fighting isotopes. Promation is a Canadian leader in the design and build of best-in-class automation solutions, with an expert team capable of developing specialty tooling and equipment that meets the stringent needs of the nuclear energy and medical isotope sectors.

“We are strong collaborators by nature and are delighted to be working closely with the McMaster team, whose values and culture resonate closely with our own” said Darryl Spector, Promation’s President.

“Promation has demonstrated expertise in automating cutting-edge, demanding processes through the development of innovative and user-friendly solutions that meet the most stringent quality standards. We are excited to work with McMaster to deploy this new technology that will impact the lives of thousands of cancer patients around the world.”