CRF - Centralized Radiochemical Facility
Preclinical research & pilot production
Starting in 2026, the CRF facility will play a prominent role in our fight against cancer. In addition to the mere production of medical radioisotopes, SCK CEN is evolving into a full-fledged pharma player. We will focus on preclinical research as well as pilot production of new radiopharmaceuticals for cancer therapies, including proprietary cancer research lines.
In the CRF building, the processing of base material that was irradiated in our BR2 reactor or in another reactor takes place. Irradiation converts a small amount of the base material into what we call 'medical radioisotopes'. At the CRF facility, we extract these isotopes from the base material through a chemical process and then they are filled into vials and sterilised, all according to GMP protocols. What is the result? A component for a radiopharmaceutical used for targeted internal radiotherapy. In this way, CRF represents the crucial step between the production of medical radioisotopes and their use in cancer treatments.
Construction of the CRf facility
The design and construction of the new CRF facility are partly funded by the Belgian-European Economic Recovery Plan after the COVID-19 pandemic. Work is scheduled to start in August 2023.
Lutetium-177 and promising isotopes
Thanks to CRF, the supply of medical isotopes can be assured, both for research into new radiopharmaceuticals in (pre)clinical studies and for therapy in hospitals.
By 2026, the CRF facility will supply Lutetium-177 to treat more than 15,000 patients with prostate cancer or a neuroendocrine cancer each year.
The facility has also been designed to process promising next-generation isotopes such as Terbium-161, which may allow cancers to be treated even more effectively.
Cleanrooms and radiopharmaceutical hot cells
The production of the medical isotopes will take place in an area with cleanrooms in which special radiopharmaceutical hot cells will be built. These not only provide the very clean environment required for the manufacture of pharmaceutical products, but also protect personnel and the environment from radioactivity.