Orano subsidiary Orano Med has laid the foundation stone for its Alpha Therapy Laboratory (ATLab) in Onnaing in northern France. This will be Europe's first industrial-scale pharmaceutical facility dedicated to the production of lead-212 (Pb-212) based radioligand therapies.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the ATLab Valenciennes facility (Image: Orano Med)

The isotope is used in an emerging medical treatment called targeted alpha therapy, in which an alpha-emitting isotope is combined with a protein or antibody that specifically targets and destroy cancer cells while minimising damage to healthy tissue. However the use of these therapies has been constrained by global radioisotope supply shortages.

Orano said the construction of ATLab Valenciennes is a step towards making these promising new treatments available to cancer patients with high unmet needs.

ATLab Valenciennes, with more than 3000 square-metres of floor space, will represent an investment of EUR29 million (USD31 million) and will create 25 direct jobs. It will focus on the production of Pb-212 therapies developed by Orano Med and their distribution in Europe. Orano Med is due to inaugurate a similar facility this year in Indianapolis to serve the US market.

This combined capacity will enable Orano Med to manufacture 10,000 doses a year as of 2025, with the aim of producing ten times that number by the end of the decade. Given the short half-life of Pb-212 (10.6 hours), the drugs need to be produced close to hospitals. The construction of further ATLabs is therefore envisaged to meet patients' needs worldwide.

"The ATLab in Onnaing is a very important step in our development strategy and is situated at the very heart of the industrial fabric of the Valenciennes metropolitan area and the Hauts-de-France region," said Guillaume Dureau, the Orano Group's Senior Executive Vice-President Projects & Innovation R&D and Nuclear Medicine. "The expansion of our production capacity in the radiopharmaceutical field is part of a drive to revitalise our country's industrial and economic fabric."

"We are convinced that radioligand therapies will soon become an essential tool in the fight against cancer," said Orano Med CEO Julien Dodet. "As the Phase II clinical trial of our most advanced drug AlphaMedix nears completion, we are building a global industrial platform to ensure the large-scale production and distribution of these potential treatments."

The construction of ATLab Valenciennes is supported by the Hauts de France region and the Valenciennes metropolitan area. The project has also been selected under the France 2030 plan following the call for "Industrialisation and health capacities 2030" projects and will receive public support of almost EUR3.8 million.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 07 February 2024
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Construction-starts-on-French-lead-212-production