BR2 made every production second of 2023 count in the fight against cancer
In a world where every minute counts in the race against cancer, our BR2 research reactor did not let a single second of production slip by in 2023. “We achieved 100% of the production days we announced. In short: 100% availability and reliability for patients,” said Steven Van Dyck, Director of BR2 at the nuclear research centre SCK CEN.
On 4 February - World Cancer Day - the world reflects on the impact of that disease on human lives, but also on the hope and progress in cancer treatments. Today, we would like to go over our research reactor BR2 with a fine-tooth comb. It produces crucial radioisotopes for diagnosis and treatment, bringing hope to millions of people worldwide. By 2023: more than 11 million patients.
Medical radioisotopes nestle - after injection - in cells of tumours and metastases and show up under a PET or SPECT scan. This allows to precisely locate cancer and treat it with the same precision. Cardiologists and neurologists, in turn, use radioisotopes to map the blood flow through body parts to assess certain heart or brain disease risks.
However, radioisotopes rapidly lose their radioactivity. In fact, they have a very short lifespan: ranging from a few hours to a few days. Thus, a doctor cannot stockpile 'isotopes' and take them off the shelf when needed. 'That means every minute between production and use in a hospital counts,' explains Steven Van Dyck, Director of the BR2 research reactor. To ensure diagnoses and treatments for patients, the entire supply chain is completely aligned. When one reactor goes into scheduled maintenance, the others run.
“Our BR2 research reactor has the largest production capacity and is therefore difficult to replace. We bear a great responsibility and, in cooperation with the safety authorities, we maintain reliability at the highest level with the necessary inspections, checks and modernisations. I am proud to say that we did not experience any unforeseen shutdowns this year. We achieved 100% of the production days we announced. In short: 100% availability AND reliability for patients and customers. And that's something of a rarity, as our annual rate averages between 95% and 99%,” said Steven Van Dyck.
Such reliability is crucial now that therapeutic radioisotopes are booming. Want to know more about Targeted Radionuclide Therapy and what it means to patients?
- 29 February '24
- 13 February '24
- 28 November '23