The full-scale manufacturing of nuclear medicines can now begin at Lucas Heights, following licence approval on June 13.
Part of Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the ANSTO Nuclear Medicine (ANM) facility was producing small quantities of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) but can now produce commercial quantities.
“This is the most advanced and safest manufacturing facility for nuclear medicine on the planet today,” said ANSTO CEO Dr Adi Paterson.
Mo-99 is the first step in producing technetium-99m (Tc-99m), an isotope required for the production of 85 per cent of Australian nuclear medicine procedures. Life-saving detections of cancer, heart, lung and musculoskeletal conditions depend upon this medicine.
This facility will go towards meeting the global demand for the medicine, with the potential to produce up to 25 per cent of global needs locally.
The inauguration of this facility and its move to full production will support a number of medical manufacturing jobs at the site as well as part of the expansion of the ANSTO precinct at Lucas Heights.
Mayor Carmelo Pesce of the southern-Sydney council the Sutherland Shire, within which the nuclear research organisation is based, noted the benefits that this will bring to the manufacturing sector in southern Sydney.
“Through this new medicine facility, and projects like the ANSTO Innovation Precinct which Council are working on with ANSTO, we are helping to introduce hundreds of new jobs to the Shire and strengthening our region’s grip on the smart jobs of the future.”
Nuclear medicine manufacturing is part of the efforts to confront health challenges such as cardiac disease and cancer but securing a site for the waste from the facilities has been contentious. Australia’s future as a manufacturer of nuclear medicine depends on the safe disposal of the waste from nuclear procedures.
Currently, waste from the new facility will be stored on site, however in future, the waste will be transported to the National Radioactive Waste Management facility at one of three potential sites in South Australia. The final site is yet to be determined.