Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, September 15th 2020 - IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A., EURONEXT), the world's leading provider of solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and IRE, the world leader in the production of radioisotopes for diagnostic and therapeutic applications in the field of nuclear medicine, announce today that they have signed a contract for the installation of a cyclotron with an energy of 30 MeV (mega electron volt) on an IRE site. Commissioning is scheduled for 2023.
Belgium is internationally recognized for its significant role in the advancement of nuclear medicine. These two Belgian companies, world leaders in their field, are joining forces to install this new cyclotron, the Cyclone® IKON, that will enable IRE to produce Germanium-68 (Ge-68), the raw material for the Germanium-68/ Gallium-68 (Galli Ad® and Galli Eo®) generators, for which demand is growing rapidly. These generators are manufactured on the Fleurus site by its pharmaceutical subsidiary IRE ELiT to serve hospitals around the world.
Gallium-68 (Ga-68), the end product extracted from these generators, can provide an accurate and earlier diagnosis of many cancers through the use of PET (positron emission tomography) camera technology. Today Gallium-68 is becoming essential for a personalized approach for the patient via nuclear medicine. The theranostic approach (therapeutic and diagnostic) involves the same molecule being combined with Ga-68 to see, through imaging, the tumors that need to be treated. This is coupled with a "therapeutic companion", Lutetium-177 (Lu-177) which, once injected into the patient, will specifically bind to the cancerous cells to destroy them while preserving healthy tissues.
Bruno Scutnaire, President of IBA's RadioPharma Solutions Division said: "We are pleased that IRE has selected our Cyclone® IKON following a call for tenders based on demanding specifications to ensure a continuous supply of isotopes for the diagnosis of numerous cancers. For over 35 years, IBA has installed more than 30 cyclotrons of this type around the world, a majority of them are still in operation, proving the excellent reliability of this system."
"This investment will give us the opportunity to control the complete production chain of our Ga-68 radiopharmaceutical generators to better supply our customers, but also to diversify our research activities with the possibility in the future of producing other radioisotopes for innovative applications in nuclear medicine via this cyclotron. This project is in line with the Institute's innovation and diversification strategy." said Erich Kollegger, Director General of the IRE.