If you take a step back to view the developments in the application of medical isotopes, you will notice three trends:
1. From the 1960s to 2015, nuclear medicine was mainly about diagnostics. The development of various ‘cold kits’ (tracers), improvements in image technology, and the availability of cameras are the driving factors in those years. There was not as much laid on therapy with isotopes, although the first developments were already underway.
2. In the run-up to 2015, the first therapeutic products were created under brand names, such as Zofigo and Zevalin. The success of these products meant a boost in the development of other radiotherapeutic products. Putting new products on the market takes time, which is why it is expected that many new brands will become available for patients in the next ten years. New therapeutic products based on lutetium-177 are promising. These provide a concrete solution to the popular term “personalised medicine”, which is important when it comes to tailor-made therapy for the patient. As a result, unnecessary and ineffective therapy can be avoided, which in turn can mean a cost reduction in healthcare while maintaining a consistent quality of life.
3. The third trend involves alpha-emitters, in which isotopes emit alpha particles. With these medical isotopes, even smaller ‘targets’ can be found in the future, making it possible to treat so-called micrometastases. Alpha-emitters are very effective in the destruction of tumour cells. Several universities and organisations are working on their development.
PALLAS will play a crucial role in furthering medical science, which will include research into new treatment methods. This will be done in close collaboration with universities, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and scientists. PALLAS aspires to become Europe’s knowledge centre for nuclear medicine.
In addition to medical research, PALLAS will conduct research into safety in nuclear applications, optimisation of resource use, development of new fourth-generation technologies such as melted-salt reactors, solutions for nuclear waste, (fundamental) materials research, supply guarantee of nuclear energy (in the medium-term and long term), and lifetime extension of existing reactors.
PALLAS aims to carry out high-quality nuclear research assignments and programmes for private and public parties, just as the HFR currently does. One of the most important parts of this is research into new medical isotopes for the treatment of patients.
In addition to medical isotope production, PALLAS has the possibility to conduct research. For example, PALLAS can play an important role in research into new fuel designs. An example of this is the development of accident-tolerant fuel which, when developed, will increase the safety of reactors.
Reactors such as the BR-2 in Belgium and Jules Horrowitz Reactor (under construction) in France are focusing strongly on research. Yet these reactors are not suitable for all types of research. PALLAS can become an addition to these reactors on important factors.