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Advances in emerging field of ‘theranostics’ are a game-changer Millions of patients around the globe rely on the regular and timely production of diagnostic and therapeutic isotopes produced in research reactors and accelerator facilities. Image courtesy IAEA. Advances in medical isotope diagnostics and therapy are holding promise for cancer patients, despite challenges facing the nuclear medical field in recent years related to radionuclide production and supply, rising costs, and stricter regulation.

Medical isotopes are radioactive substances used in various diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to treat various types of cancers and other conditions. They are essential for modern medicine, allowing physicians to visualise and target specific organs, tissues and cells in a patient’s body.

Over more than a decade, personalised medicine using nuclear techniques has been gaining pace, allowing doctors to tailor therapies and treatments to the specific needs and physiology of a patient, and to avoid harm to healthy organs or tissues.

According to Sven Van den Berghe, chief executive of Belgium-based isotope producer PanTera, one technique that has seen significant advances is known as theranostics – the term used to describe the combination of using one radioactive drug to diagnose and a second to deliver therapy to treat the main tumour and any metastatic tumours.

Date: Friday, 14 April 2023
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The Ontario government has announced CAD6.8m ($5m) in the 2023 provincial budget to strengthen the research capacity at the McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR). The investment, which will be spread over three years, is part of the University’s CAD25m project to increase reactor operations to 24 hours a day, five days a week, and to expand the diversity and amount of radioisotopes produced.

Date: Friday, 31 March 2023
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Fuel company TVEL (part of Rosatom) has signed contract documents with the Egypt Atomic Energy Organisation (EAEA) for the supply of low enriched nuclear fuel components for Egypt’s ETRR-2 research reactor.

Date: Friday, 25 November 2022
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Japan's last high-enriched uranium (HEU)-fuelled research reactor is to be converted to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel under a new agreement between the US Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

Date: Friday, 30 September 2022
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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has conducted its first Integrated Research Reactor Utilization Review (IRRUR) mission. An international team of experts carried out a thorough assessment of the way in which Chile's RECH-1 research reactor is currently being used and its potential capabilities.

Date: Thursday, 21 July 2022
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Plant scheduled for full operation in 2023 Like many other research reactors, IVG.1M originally used highly enriched uranium. Courtesy NNC Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has restarted its IVG.1M research reactor at the energy ministry’s National Nuclear Centre (NNC) near Kurchatov in the northeast of the country after it was adapted to use low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel.

Like many other research reactors, IVG.1M originally used highly enriched uranium (HEU), which is considered a proliferation risk.

NNC said in a statement that in 2010 it began a project to convert the IVG.1M – which first operated in 1972 – to LEU. The goal was to reduce the enrichment level of the fuel to below 20% in accordance with International Atomic Energy Agency requirements, while “maintaining and improving” its characteristics.

Since 1978, international agreements supported by the IAEA have been signed by various countries operating research reactors to convert them to LEU fuel. In the early 2000s, Kazakhstan became one of these countries.

Date: Thursday, 12 May 2022
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The high flux research reactor at Petten in the Netherlands. Courtesy NRG. US-based Terrestrial Energy and the Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG) have started a graphite irradiation testing programme for the Integral Molten Salt Reactor power plant at NRG’s high flux research reactor (HFR) at Petten in the Netherlands.

The work is part of broader programme of testing of components and systems for the IMSR plant, which uses Generation IV reactor technology for electric power generation and heat for industrial heat applications.

The testing programme at the HFR, one of the most powerful multi-purpose research and test reactors in the world, is designed to confirm the predicted performance of selected graphite grades throughout the seven-year cycle of the IMSR core-unit.

The testing will simulate IMSR core conditions, encompassing the full range of IMSR operating temperatures and of the neutron flux. NRG said the HFR has reached full power indicating the successful start of the test programme.

Date: Saturday, 14 November 2020
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Of the 220 research reactors in operation today, only seven are on the African continent. In other words, with 17.2% of the world population and the strongest expected growth in the coming years, Africans have access to only 3% of the world's nuclear research reactor capacity. Marguerite Leonardi, senior advisor at NPC Consulting & Engineering, and Professor Vincent Lukanda Mwamba, Commissaire Général of the Commissariat Général à l’Energie Atomique, explain why that is a concern and why the research reactor in Kinshasa should be restarted urgently.

Date: Tuesday, 13 October 2020
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The installation of the pumps for the primary cooling circuit of Argentina's RA-10 multipurpose reactor has been completed, the country's National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) has announced. This marks completion of the assembly of the reactor's large components.

Date: Saturday, 10 October 2020
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