Medical radioisotopes are time sensitive radioactive ingredients that are used for diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening diseases such as cancer. In recent years the availability of these ingredients has become a source of concern due to dependence on a limited number of aging production facilities worldwide. To overcome this concern and meet the growing demand for medical radioisotopes, Purist is developing a technology to enable a distributed network of small-scale and underutilized nuclear reactors produce high purity radioisotopes. Purist will complement the efforts of existing production facilities to serve the current and growing demand of the medical radioisotope market, increase domestic radioisotope production capabilities, and work towards ensuring no medical procedure is compromised due to radioisotope supply constraints.
The global supply of reactor produced radioisotopes depends on a limited number of production facilities worldwide. The majority of these facilities are not in the United States, causing concern for the healthcare industry and R&D communities that rely on these radioactive ingredients. As a result, there is a pressing need for the development of radioisotope production technologies to increase our domestic capabilities, while ensuring the radioisotope supply will meet the current and growing demand.
The increasing demand and growth of the radioisotope market has provided new opportunities to develop solutions in this space, Purist is aware of a number of companies working within this industry space. Purist’s approach to radioisotope production is unique in a sense that it is developing a technology that can be adopted by an existing network of underutilized nuclear reactor infrastructure, to locally produce and distribute radioisotopes on demand to the healthcare and R&D communities.
According to the BCC Market Research report, Radiotherapy, Radiopharmaceuticals and Nuclear Medicine: Global Markets (June 2019), by production method, the global radiopharmaceutical market can be categorized into the following production methods: (i) Nuclear Reactors, (ii) Particle accelerators (cyclotrons) and (iii) Radionuclide generators. According to this report the total radiopharmaceutical market by production method in 2018 was $8.2B. The 2018 market for nuclear reactor produced radiopharmaceuticals, the category Purist is focusing on, was $4.9B. By production method, the global radiopharmaceutical and therapeutics market is expected to rise at the CAGR of about 12.4% between 2018-2023.
Purist’s goal is to leverage small scale, underutilized nuclear reactors for radioisotope production. The proposed technology takes advantage of concentrating the radioisotope product during the irradiation process to produce a high purity radioactive product.
Purist’s technology is still in the R&D phase. Proof-of-concept studies using this technology has shown promising potential for production of radioisotopes with increased purity, compared to typical methods used in these same small-scale nuclear research reactors. The next stage of development includes target development, irradiation studies of targets using Purist’s technology, as well as prototype and system enhancements to maximize the high purity radioisotope production potential.
George Miller, PhD – University of California Irvine (UCI), Chemistry Department Lecturer Emeritus