On 7 December, Esther Rommel, representative of the Province North Holland, officially opened the new FIELD-LAB facility in Petten. FIELD-LAB will help accelerate the development of new nuclear medicines for the treatment of cancer. During the opening, Maarten van der Weijden, Olympic and world champion in open water swimming, gave a presentation.
Developing medical isotopes for therapy
Nuclear medicine plays a crucial role in detecting heart disease and treating cancer. Medical isotopes are the raw ingredients of these nuclear medicines. The need for isotopes for therapeutical purposes is expected to increase fivefold in the next decade.
Bertholt Leeftink (CEO NRG|PALLAS): "NRG|PALLAS is the global market leader in the production of medical isotopes. Every day, 30,000 patients depend on the isotopes produced in the High Flux Reactor in Petten. With the new FIELD-LAB facility, we are able to develop new medical isotopes for patient studies. In this way, we contribute to accelerating new treatment options for life-threatening diseases."
The FIELD-LAB initiative has created a unique partnership between Dutch academic medical centres and dedicated industrial partners. FIELD-LAB focuses on accelerating and stimulating innovation projects in nuclear medicine for the treatment of cancer. With FIELD-LAB, scientists and other parties gain access to more medical isotopes for research.
Development towards personalized medicine
Diagnosis using nuclear imaging (use of scans and photographs) and treatment with medical isotopes are increasingly and in better way brought together. This involves checking during treatment whether medicines (can) work. Universal treatment ('one size fits all') is increasingly becoming precision medicine. This not only offers a direct benefit to patients, as they receive the best possible treatment as quickly as possible. It also allows physicians to use therapies and newer costly (targeted) oncology treatments only on those patients who will benefit from them.
Theragnostic contribute to patients' well-being, chances of survival and the quality of life by delivering personalised treatment. Andor Glaudemans, chairman NVNG (Dutch Society for Nuclear Medicine) and Professor of Nuclear Medicine at UMC Groningen, said, "The theragnostic principle has become important in cancer treatment. It offers possibilities for personalized treatment and real-time monitoring of the effect of treatment. By targeting the specific characteristics of cancer cells, side effects for normal cells and tissues are prevented."
There are already several promising projects, such as the pilot study with radioactive cisplatin to select patients for chemotherapy with cisplatin. The first human pilot study (with 6 patients) is in its completion phase.
Other important projects include the development of unique technologies for the production of the isotopes lead-212 and lutetium-177. Lutetium-177 has long been used to treat neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) and may now also be applied to treat metastatic prostate cancer. Lead-212 is a promising new isotope and is being used in research for more effective therapies for cancer treatment within the FIELD-LAB consortium. Production processes for lutetium-177 and lead-212 will be carried out at the FIELD-LAB facility over the next year.
Karlijn van der Schilden, R&D Manager Medical Isotopes NRGlPALLAS: "We are very proud that our academic partners have achieved promising preclinical and clinical results. We hope to further expand our network to support the development of new nuclear medicines with supplies for clinical trials."
The FIELD-LAB building uses the extensive nuclear infrastructure at the Energy & Health Campus in Petten. FIELD-LAB is co-funded from the European Union by Kansen voor West, and the Province of North Holland. Commissioner for Spatial Development, Economy, Ports and Recreation Esther Rommel: "For the province, FIELD-LAB is very important for strengthening regional employment and the innovative knowledge infrastructure in Petten. The FIELD-LAB is of course especially very important for the public health of our citizens."
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