Production of medical radio-isotopes
Medical radio-isotopes for medical applications
SCK CEN produces radio-isotopes for medical imaging and medical treatments such as cancer therapy and pain control. Measuring the emitted dose allows to accurately monitor the radio-isotope in the body from the outside and, in this way, to analyse the behaviour of the organs or metabolisms involved. Radio-isotopes also help to destroy cancer cells.
Production of radio-isotopes
Belgium is one of five global players in the production and distribution of medical radio-isotopes.
SCK CEN produces the radio-isotope technetium-99m (won from molybdenum-99/technetium-99m generators), amongst other things, for cardiology or oncology purposes. Xenon-133 maps out the lungs.
SCK CEN currently produces about 30 to 35% of the global demand for molybdenum-99.
Almost 7 million patients can undergo a medical examination thanks to the production of this radio-isotope.
In its BR2 reactor, SCK CEN produces several radio-isotopes that are used in cancer therapies, including iridium-192 (brachytherapy), jodium-131 (thyroid gland cancer), yttrium-90 (liver cancer) and lutetium-177 (prostate cancer).
SCK CEN continuously adapts its facilities to increase the irradiation capacities and produce a new generation of radio-isotopes, including holmium-166 and terbium-161 for treating liver cancer and prostate cancer respectively.
Other medical applications
The production of radio-isotopes by SCK CEN does not stop with medical imaging and cancer treatment. A few examples of other applications that are made possible by SCK CEN: erbium-169 for injections into joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis, samarium-153, strontium-89 or rhenium-188 for pain relief for patients with bone metastases and rhenium-186 for cardiac applications.
Interested in our research into new radioisotopes or therapeutic treatments? Read about our expertise and ambitions to step up the fight against cancer.