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MURR radioisotope is submitted for FDA approval

MU Nuclear Research Reactor
University of Missouri
The building that houses the MU Research Reactor (pictured above)

The MU Research Reactor (MURR) has recently announced the submission of a radioisotope to the Food and Drug Administration for approval that could be used in cancer treatments. The radioisotope, no-carrier added Lutetium-177 (N.C.A. Lu-177), is a pure form of Lutetium-177 (Lu-177). Lu-177 is already produced by MURR for use in cancer treatments.

A radioisotope is an atom that is unstable due to excess nuclear energy. In order to become stable, it must emit radiation. Dr. Gregory Biedermann, a radiation oncologist at MU’s Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, said this process is what allows radioisotopes like N.C.A. Lu-177 to be useful in treating cancers.

“You're trying to create these unstable particles, and then essentially, how it gets turned into cancer treatment; So you have essentially, this unstable atom that is potentially radioactive. And we take advantage of the fact that it's going to give up radiation - it’s going to decay. And what we do is we'll tag that into something,” Biedermann said.

According to Biedermann, the treatments work by attaching to receptors on the surface of cancer cells.

“It gets tagged on to those cancer cells, and now can get up close and personal to the cancer cell and emit radiation and damage that, while hopefully not damaging things around it,” Biedermann said.

This is the process cancer treatment LutatheraⓇ uses, which is made using Lu-177 that is produced and supplied by MURR. The no-carrier-added version of Lu-177 that was recently submitted to the FDA is more pure, which Biedermann said may result in less byproduct and make it easier to use the radioactive material to create treatments.

“You're creating a process where you're going to get more of the active Lutetium-177. Therefore, what you're shipping out - it's more pure, and it can be potentially more stable. And also, you're more reliable when you're making the drug and delivering the drug,” Biedermann said.

If approved by the FDA, MURR would be the sole producer of N.C.A. Lu-177 in the U.S. MU would also enter into an exclusive multi-year supply agreement with pharmaceutical company Novartis. MURR currently supplies Lu-177 to Novartis for use in cancer treatments like LutatheraⓇ and PluvictoⓇ.

Anna Spidel is a health reporter for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. A proud Michigander, Anna hails from Dexter, Michigan and received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Michigan State University in 2022. Previously, she worked with member station Michigan Radio as an assistant producer on Stateside.
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