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Medical radioisotopes are certain radioactive substances frequently used in nuclear medicine for cancer diagnoses. However, nuclear medicine is at a tipping point: targeted cancer treatments with therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals are on the up.  In this process, a carrier molecule transmits a therapeutic radioisotope to the cancer cells in the body. As soon as the carrier molecule has attached to the cell, the radioactive isotope will irradiate the cancer cell with the intention of disrupting the DNA of the tumour cell. The tumour cell dies, shrinks and may possibly even disappear entirely.

NURA - SCK CEN (2019)

Expertise as leverage against cancer

It is expected that the demand for it will only increase as the number of cancer diagnoses increases year after year. In 2018, an estimated 18.1 million people were diagnosed with cancer, 9.6 million patients died on account of the disease.
NURA - SCK CEN (2019)

Pioneering research

With its NURA project, SCK CEN significantly increases its contribution to the fight against cancer. By pooling its knowledge and expertise in terms of radiopharmaceuticals, NURA contributes to the development of the next-generation radiopharmaceuticals. More specifically, NURA performs game-changing research into radiopharmaceuticals for treating different types of cancer in cooperation with clinical and industrial partners.

The NURA project rests on three pillars:

  • As a Contract Research Organisation (CRO), SCK CEN conducts pre-clinical studies for external partners to support the development of new radiopharmaceutical treatments.

  • As a Contract Manufacturing Organisation (CMO), SCK CEN has the ambition to widen its expertise with the production of radioisotopes and become a stable supplier of therapeutic radioisotopes. In a first phase, NURA focuses on the production of Lutetium-177, later on also on Actinium-225, both in GMP quality (Good Manufacturing Practices).

  • SCK CEN aims to develop more efficient and safer cancer therapies and pays particular attention to fundamental research into the underlying mechanisms of therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals. To succeed in this, SCK CEN brings together the knowledge of several research groups, such as radiobiology, dosimetry and radiochemistry. Furthermore, the research centre paves the way to partnerships with actors on various levels, including academics, industry and research institutes. Still, (interdisciplinary) cooperation is not the only important factor, suitable infrastructure is another. NURA will, amongst others, use its BR2 reactor for the production and development of therapeutic radioisotopes.

Strengthen the NURA team

  • SCK CEN - NURA (2019)


    Researchers are situated at the crossroads between (radio)chemistry, (radio)biology, dosimetry and pharmaceutical sciences and have disposal of unique research infrastructure.

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  • SCK CEN Alumni (2019)


    Engineers are the backbone of the NURA project. They design, build and test various applications within NURA: from advanced labs to large-scale nuclear facilities.

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  • SCK CEN - NURA (2019)

    Management & support

    Project managers supervise the many projects within NURA. NURA is also looking for technical experts who ensure the safety and efficiency of our laboratories. This allows our lab technicians to perform unrivalled research within a challenging but flexible environment.

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