In a joint statement McMaster University and the Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG) said the collaboration is unique and discussions were escalated by a recent global shortage of the life-saving treatment.
McMaster University, in Ontario, has a 5-MW (thermal) pool-type reactor that has been operating since 1959. NRG operates the 45-MW (thermal) high-flux research reactor at Petten.
The statement said an estimated 80% of people who suffer cancer will receive some form of radiotherapy. “A shortage of isotopes a couple of years ago clearly showed the vulnerability of a system which relies on only a few manufacturers worldwide,” said Coen Rasch, a radiologist-oncologist at Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and chairman of the Dutch Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology. “The field of short-running isotopes like I-125 is the first to suffer in such a situation,” he said.
The shortage required “an acute and sustainable emergency solution”, the statement said. Canada and the Netherlands responded with their collaboration.
I-125 is a radioisotope of iodine. For cancer treatment a liquid solution of I-125 is fixed to a substrate, which is encapsulated in titanium “seeds” about the size of a grain of rice. These seeds can be located exactly around the tumour, a process also known as brachytherapy.