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Eckert & Ziegler Cooperates with UJF to Produce Actinium-225

May 11, 2022 | Berlin

Eckert & Ziegler Cooperates with UJF to Produce Actinium-225

Eckert & Ziegler has entered into a long-term cooperation agreement with the Nuclear Physics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Ústav jaderné fyziky, UJF) to produce the alpha emitter Actinium-225. The agreement envisions Eckert & Ziegler to provide the UJF research center with several million euros for investments in equipment and hot cells, as well as radium-226 as a starting material for experiments and irradiations. In return, the Eckert & Ziegler group gets exclusive access to the capacities of a pilot unit being built within the next two years close to Prague and joint rights to the process steps developed for a large-scale Ac-225 commercial production.

Actinium-225 is used as an active ingredient in cancer treatment. The radioisotope emits powerful, high-energy cascade of alpha particles with short penetration depths that enable precise treatment of tumor cells, including difficult-to-target micro metastases, with minimal impact on surrounding healthy tissue. For this purpose, Actinium-225 is combined with a suitable carrier (e.g. antibody or peptide) that specifically binds to cancer cells to selectively target them. Currently, Actinium-255-based radiopharmaceuticals are being tested in many clinical indications, including prostate tumors, colorectal cancer, and leukemia. Specialists expect the demand for Actinium-225 to increase exponentially over the next decade.

“The collaboration with Eckert & Ziegler helps to create efficient plants for the production of therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals in the European Union,” explained Dr. Petr Lukáš, Director of the UJF. “Corona and the recent political crises in the East of Europe show how vulnerable global supply chains can get and how important it can be for producers of novel radiopharmaceuticals to develop parts of their value chain with local partners,” added Prof. Dr. Ondřej Lebeda, Head of the Department Radiopharmaceuticals of the UJF.

“With UJF, we have a competent partner for the complex tasks involved in the production of Actinium-225 just 90 minutes by car from our site in Saxony,” added Dr. Lutz Helmke, Executive Director and COO of the Medical segment. “We are gaining a valuable ally in the attempt to expand our leading position in the global market for therapeutic radioisotopes. As a starting material, we are drawing on a stock of radium-226 that we have accumulated in our recycling business during the take-back of medical radiation sources. This reprocessing of the sources, by the way, provides an example of how well recycling concepts work within the industry.”

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